Loma Linda University Health is currently treating eligible patients battling severe novel coronavirus (COVID-19) with convalescent plasma in hopes of boosting their ability to fight the virus.
The patients are treated while in the hospital through a transfusion of serum containing virus-neutralizing antibodies, which were removed from a recovered individual’s donated blood.
Tait Stevens, president of the medical staff at Loma Linda University Medical Center, said some evidence shows that patients currently suffering from COVID-19 recover better if they receive plasma from those who have previously recovered. Stevens cited a study published in April 2020 that showed encouraging results from 10 severe adult cases, where the patient received the convalescent plasma, maintained or increased the antibodies, and went on to recover.
“This study showed promising results, and we want to do everything we can to continue this fight against COVID-19,” Stevens said.
Rohith Mohan, a second-year pediatric resident at Loma Linda University Children’s Hospital, began having symptoms in mid-March. He recovered within approximately 10 days but continued to test positive for the virus for 40 days. Mohan donated blood at a LifeStream donation center on May 16. His antibody-filled plasma could now potentially provide treatment for up to four patients currently battling the disease he overcame.
Apart from blood donations, community members and organizations are providing financial support for convalescent plasma treatment. The Riverside Community Health Foundation recently funded this treatment with a US$25,000 grant. Additionally, Thomas and Candace Spiel donated US$25,000 in support of the work Loma Linda University Health is doing.
Loma Linda University Health is asking adults to help with continuing to provide this potentially life-saving treatment through donating blood at LifeStream. Unless urgent need exists elsewhere, most plasma donated will remain local, assisting individuals in the community. If the donating individual tells LifeStream they’re representing Loma Linda University Health, the institution is guaranteed at least one unit from that donation. Pre-screening is required for convalescent plasma donations.
In order for someone who has recovered from COVID-19 to donate, they must have tested negative for the virus or have gone 14 days without symptoms, coordinators said. If interested, they added, individuals should send an email with their full name, date of birth, phone number, approximate number of days without symptoms, and date of positive COVID-19 test, if available.