CVPH clinical trial uses blood plasma from COVID-recovered

Published: Apr. 28, 2020 at 4:58 PM EDT
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A clinical trial at Champlain Valley Physicians Hospital in Plattsburgh could help determine if recovered COVID-19 patients can help those who are still sick.

The 33-year-old has since recovered from the virus and is now doing what he can to help others by donating his blood plasma.

"I've never donated plasma and it was a very easy process," Avery said.

Plasma is the liquid part of blood after white and red blood cells are removed. Avery made his first donation this weekend at the CVPH blood bank.

"Plasma is essentially composed of many different proteins including antibodies which helps for immunity and fights infection," said Dr. Madiha Tahir, an infectious diseases specialist at the hospital.

Doctors are researching the effect a recovered patients' plasma could have on a patient still in the throes of COVID-19. They hope the recovered patient's antibodies will help fight the disease in someone who is still sick.

Avery is one of three area donors. Only one Plattsburgh patient has received plasma so far. "Seems like she is doing better. She was able to get off the ventilator. I think it's too early to say if it's because of the plasma or not because it was just one patient we have done so far," Tahir said. As for recovered patients, not everyone is eligible to donate. "There is a screening process and a time frame after which you recovered from the infection that you may be eligible for it."

The process is similar to what someone would experience donating blood, but takes about an hour and strips the plasma from the blood and puts the blood back into your body. Each donation is expected to help about five people. Blood types need to be consistent between the donor and recipient

"You are not feeling that fatigued afterwards. When I donate blood, I would be out the rest of the day, tired and needing a nap," Avery said.

All of the plasma collected at CVPH stays in the community. "Helping the community, this is all helpful," Avery said.