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Doctors call for people who recovered from coronavirus to donate plasma for COVID antibody testing

(Intermountain Medical Center in Murray. Credit: Jeffrey D. Allred, KSL, file)

MURRAY – Doctors want answers when it comes to how effective antibodies are in treating COVID-19 coronavirus.  So, officials with Intermountain Healthcare and the Red Cross are calling on those who’ve recovered from the virus to donate their plasma to help people who are still infected.

When Matt Newey got sick with COVID-19, he said it started as brain fog. He felt down, lethargic, and experienced muscle aches that felt like he had gone through a full-body workout.  However, things became especially scary when the sickness went to his chest. He described the pain as breathing through a straw.

“My sinuses dried out. My lungs dried out and they burned like crazy,” Newey recalled.

When Newey was told he could donate his plasma for research, he jumped at the chance.  He said he’ll do anything he can to prevent others from feeling the kind of pain he felt.

“I have these antibodies in my system and I want to take advantage of this window that I have to give back to the community that helped support me as I was fighting through the virus,” Newey said.

The FDA recently launched the National Expanded Access Treatment Protocol, which lets doctors give plasma from people who have recovered from the virus to patients who are still sick.

Doctor Brandon Webb with Intermountain Healthcare notes “convalescent plasma” is one of several therapies being used on COVID-19 patients, but, it’s still very much in the experimental phase.

(Dr. Brandon Webb, speaking at IMC in Murray. Credit: Paul Nelson)

“We don’t know that this will work, and I emphasize this to people.  As has been said, this is investigational.  There is data, very small data, not very strong data, but there is data that says this may be helpful,” according to Webb.

Just last week, doctors at IMC in Murray gave this kind of plasma to a patient in intensive care.  That patient is showing signs of improvement, although they’re not certain how much of that can be attributed to the antibodies.

The first shipment of convalescent plasma came from the Mayo Clinic, who will be spearheading this effort across the country.  However, Dr. Daanish Hoda with IHC said they’ll get future shipments from The Red Cross.  Patients will be selected based on the severity of their illness and if they have a matching blood type.

“We will be infusing few over the next week, as we see fit,” said Hoda.

People who want to donate their plasma can do so through The Red Cross.

 

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