Blood of COVID-19 survivors could hold key to fighting the virus

The blood of COVID-19 survivors could hold the key to fighting off the coronavirus.

News 12 Staff

Apr 14, 2020, 2:32 AM

Updated 1,553 days ago

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The blood of COVID-19 survivors could hold the key to fighting off the coronavirus.
Doctors in New Jersey are now using the blood of these patients in a race against time to save the lives of those infected. The hope is that the antibody-rich plasma in the blood will help boost patients’ immune systems.
“We’ve been giving it to people who are pretty ill, who are having trouble breathing,” says Dr. Neil Gaffin.
This is the first unit of experts to administer the plasma treatment. About 10 patients are getting plasma.
Photos: Your Coronavirus Pandemic Experience
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This type of practice has had success before from the Spanish Flu to outbreaks of Measles. Doctors say that they are cautiously optimistic.
“The theory is that one makes antibodies against the virus which can neutralize it,” Gaffin says.
The treatment may even be able to prevent the disease. But the process is tedious and hinges on volunteers to come forward.
“I’m confident because they told me I’m a super donor and got lots of antibodies,” says Dr. Benjamin Planer.
Planer is the key to this. He is healthy now after a mild case of COVID-19. He says that when he heard that his peers at Hackensack Meridian Health were working on the plasma treatment, he was the first in line to donate.
“With these very sick patients, the intensive care physicians are really throwing the book at these patients,” he says.
But so-called “super donors” are not easy to find. Thousands of patients who have recovered from the virus have volunteered, but only dozens have qualified.
“If they had a prior COVID-19 infection, if they have been well for 14 days, they could be a suitable donor,” says Dr. Michele Donato.
The effort to use donated plasma is underway in other parts of the country. Data from the effort is being analyzed to see if it is having an impact.


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