University of Illinois College of Medicine leaders encourage convalescent plasma donations

Health News

PEORIA, Ill. (WMBD) — University of Illinois College of Medicine leaders are encouraging recovered COVID-19 patients to give convalescent plasma.

They say this process has been done before with other viruses and has worked.

Dr. Teresa Lynch of the University of Illinois College of Medicine says recovered patients of H1N1, Ebola, SARS, influenza, and mers have donated plasma to patients who had each respective virus, and many times patients’ health improved.

“The blood tests we look at that measure signs of severe inflammation or signs of an attack on the immune system showed improvement as well,” Dr. Lynch said.

Now Dr. Lynch says recovered COVID-19 patients should do the same.

“There’s been studies done that have shown some effectiveness in patients with COVID-19 where we’ve seen that patients have cleared the virus from their blood. When they’ve gone back and checked, they’ve shown that they have antibodies against the virus. If one person donates, it can actually help about three patients with COVID-19, Dr. Lynch said.

She says the donations have helped patients’ symptoms decrease.

“They’ve shown improvements of their symptoms. Their breathing got better, they were able to be taken off a breathing machine. A chest X-ray or CAT scan of their lungs showed gradual improvement of the pneumonia findings in their lungs,” Dr. Lynch said.

Lynch says donations get dispersed regionally, but it’s never a guarantee a patient will receive a donation. She says the more people donate in this region, the better chance patients will have to get the plasma they need.

“We have been able to get plasma fortunately. We never know quite if we are going to get it for someone or when we are going to get it for someone. It’s a little bit like being on a transplant list where we enroll the patients, they wait for the plasma, we tell them we hope it’s gonna come but we’re not sure if they’re going to get it or not,” Dr. Lynch said.

Dr. Lynch says the Red Cross will do antibody testing, looking for past infection of COVID-19 in donors.

If they do have the antibodies, it can be used to help current COVID-19 patients.

You can find where to donate here.

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