Convalescent plasma needed to help save COVID-19 patients as cases surge

Posted at 5:24 PM, Jun 24, 2020
and last updated 2020-06-24 19:50:04-04

CINCINNATI — Now, more than ever, as COVID-19 cases surge in Hamilton County and throughout the nation, convalescent plasma from those who have recovered from the virus is in high demand to save lives.

Hoxworth Blood Center has been working to help current patients recover by taking plasma donations from recovered patients, both in the Greater Cincinnati and all over the country, as other states see even higher surges in new cases. Hoxworth has shipped units of convalescent plasma to Texas and even the Department of Defense to help treat infected patients fighting for their lives.

"We have been actively collecting convalescent plasma, or plasma from people who have been sick with COVID-19 and have recovered since mid-April of this year," said Dr. David Oh, chief medical officer at Hoxworth.

The practice isn't a new one: The process of using the plasma containing antibodies for a virus from patients who recover was done during the Spanish Flu pandemic in 1918 as well.

"We have an inventory currently of over 200 units, so we have a very healthy supply here at Hoxworth for the Tri-State area,” said Dr. Oh.

But Hoxworth officials said they'll need more plasma to continue saving lives, if current trends continue. Hamilton County health officials reported Wednesday that the county has seen 782 new cases since last week. Hoxworth has sent 50 units to the U.S. Department of Defense and 25 units to Texas.

"I think that part of the reason we sent units to Texas to help them during this crisis is because they had an acute spike, and I think we’re seeing that in many states across the country," said Dr. Oh.

Hoxworth has already collected nearly 700 units of convalescent plasma since mid-April but not all of it can be used to help current patients recover. The plasma is only useful if there are enough antibodies present, so recovered patients who want to donate should do so as soon after they've recovered as possible.

In addition to the need for plasma, Hoxworth is seeing a huge need for normal blood donations as hospitals reopen for surgeries and other procedures.

"We're supporting the hospitals as they are now going from canceling all their elective surgeries to going full speed; we’re actually finding that our blood demand is higher than it was before COVID-19," said Dr. Oh.

Hoxworth said it specifically needs Type O blood, but all types are in need across the board.