OVERLAND PARK, Kan. — A coronavirus patient at Menorah Medical Center is one of the first people in the metro to receive blood plasma as a treatment for the virus.
The plasma was donated from a recovered COVID-19 patient in New York City and arrived here through the Community Blood Center.
Dr. Joseph Restivo is a transfusion medicine specialist with Research Medical Center. He said the effort is part of a national study to try and find treatments for COVID-19.
“It is like a blood transfusion. It’s a transfusion of the liquid part of the blood called the plasma and the plasma contains antibodies and a person who is recovered from COVID 19. Many of those antibodies are specific to neutralize the COVID-19 virus,” he said.
“So the goal is that we would use that plasma rich in these antibodies, transfuse that into a patient that has severe or life-threatening COVID-19 in the hopes that that would improve their condition.”
The patient is showing some signs of improvement, but Dr. Marjorie Wongskhaluang, also of Research Medical Center, cautions that more research needs to be done to find out if the research is effective.
“With COVID-19, obviously this is a brand new infection that we are all learning as we go, and we are studying multiple different treatments all across the country, all across the world,” she said. “And convalescent plasma is one of those that we are hopeful will have a place in the treatment of these severe, critically ill COVID-19 patients.”
Doctors are hoping that treatments can save lives before a vaccine arrives, which could take up to a year or more.
“It may take some time to develop a vaccine. We need therapies right now to take care of the patients right now who are sick, and this is one of the promising therapies that we are pursuing,” Restivo said.
“We’re going to learn as much as we can about it. If we have a second wave, a bad second wave that some people talk about, hopefully we will learn enough that we’ll be prepared for that and we’ll be able to use this therapy down the road.”
Patients in the Kansas City metro who have recovered from COVID-19 are encouraged to donate plasma and participate in the study.
For more information about COVID-19 plasma donation and participation in this COVID-19 study, call HCA Midwest Health’s helpline at 833-582-1971.