First critically ill COVID-19 patient treated with plasma at UMass Memorial showing significant improvement, doctor says

BOSTON — Doctors at UMass Memorial Medical Center are making strides in their efforts to learn more about how to use plasma to treat COVID-19 patients.

The idea is to take plasma from a healthy donor who recovered from COVID-19 and inject it in a patient so the donor’s antibodies can help the patient fight off the disease.

After hours of transfusion, doctors noticed the patient had improved dramatically and is now starting to wean off the ventilator. That same patient needed near-maximal settings on the ventilator to fully oxygenate him prior to the transfusion.

“It’s very exciting, I think this is one of the things that will help turn the tables on this dreaded virus,” said Dr. Jonathan Gerber, chief of hematology and oncology at Umass Memorial.

Gerber explains the medical team wasn’t sure the patient would make it, up until they went through with the treatment.

“He was on a ventilator, he was really requiring almost maximal settings on that ventilator to keep him alive,” said Gerber. “The sheer excitement was palpable when we saw this guy getting better.”

Now, the hospital is trying to collect as much plasma as it can.

Donors have to no longer be contagious and will go through a screening process to see if they’re eligible to help.

“We basically are scrambling to find more and more donors that need to be at least two weeks out from their infection, preferably four weeks out,” said Gerber.

If you recently recovered from the virus and are no longer contagious, you can sign up to donate your plasma by emailing UMassCOVIDplasma@umassmed.edu. For more information, please visit Conquering Diseases.

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