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Baptist Health System Urges Recovered COVID-19 Patients to Participate in Convalescent Plasma Programs

Jul 22, 2020

As local hospitals continue to manage an ongoing surge of COVID-19 patients, area physicians are urging those who have recovered from COVID-19 infection to participate in a program that can benefit those who are struggling to beat the virus. Convalescent Plasma can be donated by certain individuals who have recovered from COVID-19 to help treat those who are hospitalized with severe symptoms of COVID-19 infection.

Baptist Health System participates in the Mayo Clinic’s Expanded Access Program for COVID-19 which tracks collection and treatment of COVID patients with Convalescent Plasma. Mayo recently expanded the plasma treatment protocol to allow two treatments rather than one. This has increased the need for Convalescent Plasma in hospitals treating COVID patients.

Duane Hospenthal, MD, infectious diseases specialist for Baptist Health System, explained the science behind the long-used treatment, which is finding new use to combat the COVID-19 pandemic.

“Plasma is the liquid part of our blood that contains special proteins called antibodies. These antibodies are able to help fight infection by neutralizing the virus, and help the body get rid of the infection. When someone has recovered from COVID-19, their blood still contains these special antibodies, which can help fight off an infection when given to someone else who is still suffering from severe disease,” he said. “This technology is actually very old and has been used successfully in the past to treat everything from Diphtheria to Ebola. The Mayo Clinic is leading a nationwide trial to determine how effective the use of convalescent plasma is in the treatment of COVID-19. Many of the hospitals in our region are part of this historical trial.”

For local residents who have recovered from COVID-19 infection and are interested in helping those who are struggling with the virus, there are specific guidelines that must be met to be a candidate for plasma donation, including:

  • Prior diagnosis of COVID-19, documented by a laboratory test
    • or a positive test result for SARS-CoV-2 antibodies
  • Complete resolution of symptoms for at least 14 days (some hospitals require more time)
  • A current negative test result for active infection with COVID-19
  • All other donor eligibility for an automated plasma donation

Lynnette Watkins, MD, Chief Medical Officer for Baptist Health System, outlines the first steps local residents who have recovered from COVID-19 can help others struggling with the virus.

“We are urging people who have recovered from COVID-19 to contact the South Texas Blood and Tissue Center for more information about donating. The urgent need for plasma donations from individuals who have recovered from COVID-19 comes as our area hospitals are working to combat the ongoing surge of COVID-19 infections in San Antonio and surrounding communities. The community can help by taking all necessary precautions - please avoid large gatherings, wear your mask, and wash your hands often.”

For more information contact the South Texas Blood & Tissue Center at COVID19@southtexasblood.org or call 210-731-2719.

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