Vitalant, a blood service provider in Phoenix is trying to help the coronavirus pandemic and has launched a new program to begin treating coronavirus patients with plasma donated by those who have recovered from the virus.
Convalescent Plasma: What Is It and How Do Patients Benefit?
Those who have completely recovered from COVID-19 may have immune-boosting antibodies in their plasma—called “convalescent plasma”—that could be used to treat critically ill COVID-19 patients.
Vitalant received its first donation of convalescent plasma — a blood component containing antibodies which could boost patients’ abilities to fight off the coronavirus on Wednesday.
21-year-old Scottsdale resident Jack Schmittlein, had been studying abroad in Spain and tested positive for COVID-19 on March 18. He tested negative on April 2.
“This is an example of the medical and research communities coming together to effect real change during this pandemic,” said Vitalant Chief Medical Officer Ralph Vassallo.
“Convalescent plasma is a promising response tool for fighting COVID-19 in patients, and potentially for those working on the front lines.”
The Food and Drug Administration just allowed the transfusion of convalescent plasma as an investigational treatment. It’s currently the only antibody treatment available for COVID-19 patients.
Who is Eligible to Donate Convalescent Plasma and Where Will It Be Collected?
Convalescent plasma donors will be referred to Vitalant by their physician, treating facility (clinic/hospital) or local public health departments. These providers will first determine suitability and eligibility to donate. Current criteria include:
- prior diagnosis of COVID-19, documented by a laboratory test
- complete resolution of symptoms for at least 14 days (some hospitals require more time)
- a current negative test result for COVID-19
- all other donor eligibility for an automated plasma donation
The donor must present the appropriate documentation to Vitalant donation center staff upon check-in.
At this time, Vitalant is finalizing the location details for collecting convalescent plasma.
In order to qualify as a convalescent plasma donor, an individual must have a prior diagnosis of coronavirus documented by a laboratory test, be symptom-free for at least 14 days and meet all current FDA requirements regarding plasma donation.
If you are potential donor who has completely recovered from COVID-19 and interested in helping patients, Vitalant asks that you complete this form. Participants will be provided with additional information about how to qualify as a convalescent plasma donor as screening processes at select hospitals.
It is important to note that Vitalant does NOT test for COVID-19 and patients must not donate blood if they are sick.
Read more about Vitalant’s participation in the COVID-19 convalescent plasma program.