MANILA, Philippines – Patients recovered from coronavirus disease (COVID-19) may have only one “superpower” that can help those who still suffer from the disease – their plasma.
Dr. Francisco Lopez, a hematologist at St. Luke’s Medical Center, explained that patients with COVID-19, who have recovered, produce antibodies that help fight infection.
Thus, patients recovered with COVID-19 can help others still affected by the disease by donating convalescent plasma.
“A requirement [for those who will donate] is that they need to have two negative nasal swabs and, after that, we proceed with the other tests, the standard tests – HIV, hepatitis, syphilis, malaria and other blood tests. So do we [have to] really check if they already have the antibodies, ”said Lopez in an interview with INQUIRER.net.
When a patient needs plasma, medical professionals ask donors to collect plasma.
“Plasma is collected through the use of a machine called an apheresis machine. This is a cell sorter. It can separate red blood cells, white blood cells in blood products and only obtain the liquid part of the blood that we call plasma, ”explained Lopez.
Recovered patients up to 65 years of age can donate, said Lopez. But those over 65 who wish to donate need to be carefully examined.
Donors can also donate as soon as they receive their second negative test for COVID-19, which indicates that they have actually recovered from the disease.
“A bag measures approximately 500 cc or half a liter and is immediately infused in the container for one to two hours. Collection takes approximately an hour or less than an hour from the donor, ”said Lopez.
It is efficient?
Dr. Mae Campomanes, a pulmonary consultant at St. Luke’s Medical Center, said the use of convalescent plasma was useful in previous epidemics, such as SARS and MERS-CoV.
“They were able to show additional benefits in terms of recovery, time to extubate patients, improvement in symptoms,” said Campomanes.
Campomanes said plasma donations only started over the weekend and it takes about a week to establish a definite improvement.
However, she said recipients of the first batch of plasma donations from recovered COVID-19 patients are showing improvements.
“[I am] Fortunately, some of those who received convalescent plasma, X-ray results improved, ”said Campomanes.
“The oxygen status has also improved a little and, we hope, we will continue to monitor these patients and will see further improvements at the end of the week from the moment they were administered the infusion. We have a lot of hope, ”he added.
In addition to receiving plasma donations, patients with COVID-19 will also continue with the existing regimen, such as treatment with antibiotics and dialysis, among others.
“For all the survivors of COVID, you are now blessed to have recovered and also to have superpowers because you now have antibodies to COVID-19,” said Campomanes.
“We are asking your help for the other patients with COVID-19 who are still suffering inside the hospital which, if you could share your antibodies with them through this convalescent plasma, would be great,” he added.
Institutions and facilities offering convalescent plasma donation services include St. Luke’s Medical Center and the General Hospital of the Philippines.
On Sunday, April 12, the Department of Health (DOH) said there are 4,648 confirmed cases of COVID-19 in the country, with the death toll reaching 297.
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Donors are requested to call the city of St. Luke’s Quezon on extension 8257-0301 4725 or the global city of St. Luke’s-Taguig on extension 89678-7700 2096
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