A local hospital is recruiting those who have had coronavirus to help others heal by donating plasma. OneBlood is partnering with several hospitals including AdentHealth to help treat those with life-threatening coronavirus infections.
"What we're basically doing is giving antibodies, that have already been produced by folks that have recovered from the disease, to individuals that are critically ill or very sick that don't have the antibodies yet. What we hope, is that those antibodies that we get from somebody else, will neutralize the virus or reduce the effectiveness, which is what we do when we get vaccinated," said Dr. Eduardo Oliveira.
Dr. Oliveira is the executive director for critical care at AdventHealth. He says their Orlando hospital has treated about 75 patients with coronavirus.
"Some of our patients have been discharged and are at home which is great. Some taken off ventilators and sent home, but some of them are still very sick," said Dr. Oliveira.
Dr. Oliveira says there are still dozens of people on ventilators at the hospital right now. The plasma treatment would be used for the most critical cases.
Donating plasma is much like donating blood. OneBlood says potential donors would be screened and tested to make sure they don't have the active virus and that they have enough antibodies for effective treatment. Although it's still an experimental treatment and there could be side effects, doctors like Oliveira remain hopeful and say they will continue to search for innovative ways to treat their patients.
"Being afraid right now is very normal especially if you are a health care professional and understanding that people are getting infected around the world, as you're taking care of those patients. They are being brave putting that fear aside to take care of patients," said Dr. Oliveira.
There is a short supply of plasma from people who have recovered from the virus and patients have to be matched with the same blood-type as the donors. Dr. Oliveira says they have matched three patients and plan to start the treatment Friday. Physicians will continue to monitor those patients to study the effectiveness of the new treatment.
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If you have recovered from COVID-19 and would like to donate plasma, you can contact your local OneBlood center or visit oneblood.org.
Here’s who qualifies to donate:
- COVID-19 convalescent plasma must only be collected from recovered individuals if they are eligible to donate blood.
- Required testing must be performed and the donation must be found suitable.
- Prior diagnosis of COVID-19 documented by a laboratory test.
- Complete resolution of symptoms at least 14 days prior to donation.
- Have a negative result for COVID-19.
- Meet all standard FDA blood donation requirements.
While the Florida Department of Health reports twice daily on new cases and deaths related to COVID-19, measuring recoveries is much more difficult.
“We do not currently measure ‘recovery,’ and don’t expect to have such a designation anytime in the near future. Recovery can mean a lot of things – some countries say you’re recovered 14 days from infection even if you are still sick, or even dead, based on a computer algorithm that calculates the amount of time passed since a case is first reported. The very definition of recovery is a contested issue – are you recovered once you’re no longer symptomatic, or contagious, once you get a negative test result, or no longer require hospitalization? Are you ever ‘recovered’ if you suffer long-term effects from having the virus? Until some of these issues and definitions are worked out at the local, state and national level, we will not be providing a metric for recovery,” the FDOH wrote on its website.
One organization that does track recoveries is the Johns Hopkins Center for Systems Science and Engineering, although the numbers from Florida are missing from its figures.
According to the organization’s global coronavirus tracker, embedded below, 308,757 people have recovered worldwide after testing positive for coronavirus.
To see the recovery column on the right, you’ll need to view the map on a desktop computer as it is not visible from the mobile browser view.
Based on that data, 22,563 people have recovered in the United States, although a state-by-state breakdown is not provided.