Seventy-one units of convalescent plasma already have been sent to area hospitals with patients battling COVID-19, Blood Assurance officials said Tuesday.
The regional nonprofit blood center is collecting plasma from people who have recovered from the novel coronavirus infection in hopes a transfusion will help someone who is critically ill. The nonprofit Plasma Therapy in Rome is helping to link donors and hospitals for the experimental treatment.
“We’re encouraged by the possibilities this treatment offers and are grateful for the support we received from Blood Assurance as we considered its use,” said Sheila Bennett, executive vice president and chief of patient services at Floyd Medical Center.
So far, 25 donors have stepped up, including state Sen. Bruce Thompson, R-White, last week. The plasma produced 83 units and there are 12 more available for shipment to patients in need.
A patient would typically get one or two units, according to Dr. Matt McClain, who pulled together a coalition of local medical professionals to found Plasma Therapy just a couple months ago.
Dr. Stephen Barnes, an anesthesiologist at Memorial Hospital in Chattanooga, recovered from COVID-19 and donated convalescent plasma last week at Blood Assurance.
“There are so few treatment options for the more severe cases,” Barnes said. “Convalescent plasma is a promising treatment that has been used for other diseases for more than 100 years, so the ability to use plasma to treat hospitalized patients sick with COVID-19 is an exciting prospect.”
Barnes said people who recover from COVID-19 “have the unique ability to make a real difference in someone else’s life — potentially even save a life.”
Donors must have been officially diagnosed with COVID-19, pass all standard requirements to give plasma and either be symptom free for 28 days or have a document certifying they have tested negative for COVID-19 at least 14 days prior.