Plasma Therapy: Liquid Gold, But Not so New

Recovered COVID-19 patients donating plasma to help others

LUBBOCK, Texas (KCBD) - You may hear new experimental treatment for COVID-19 called Plasma Therapy or Convalescent Serum.

It’s the same thing.

Both refer to a plasma donation, similar to giving blood.

When used to treat coronavirus, these donations come from people who have recovered from COVID-19 and have built up antibodies that could be lifesaving to others who are critically ill.

Dr. Steven Berk, an Infectious Disease Specialist and Dean of the Texas Tech School of Medicine, says TTUHSC helped with the paperwork and protocol to make this new treatment available here...

But he says the treatment itself is nothing new.

He explains, “They tried to do something like this in the influenza outbreak in 1918. We don’t have good data on how that worked. But convalescent serum seems to have cured some patients with Ebola and it was even used in the SARS epidemic with some improvement. So the FDA is letting us and others look at this as kind of an investigational drug.”

Dr. Berk says the process of using Convalescent Serum follows strict guidelines. The donor must have been diagnosed with Coronavirus, then recovered with a negative test. Then, they need to wait for at least 14 days. However, he says some health experts prefer that the donor wait for 28 days before volunteering their plasma. He says it’s important for the TTUSOM to be involved in this effort because we are all fighting a tragic illness that is impacting our community.

As of today, 40 people have died from COVID-19 in Lubbock County. He says, “There’s no treatment. Treatment is supportive, giving fluids, giving oxygen, intubating the patient if that has to be done. So its very frustating to physicians and the staff in ICU to feel like they don’t have anything to offer these patients. So this is a hope. And it has a good chance of working. It has even improved morale in some of the ICUS. Now that we have this potential treatment. we have principal invstigators in each hospial that will decide what pateint would be best to get this therapy.”

This new Convalescent Therapy has been used in several COVID-19 patients at UMC.

Today, a recovered COVID-19 patient became the first to donate his blood plasma for use at Covenant Health.

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