Recovered COVID-19 patients donate their plasma in Florence


FLORENCE, SC (WBTW) – A convalescent plasma drive was held in Florence Wednesday as doctors continue their fight against the novel coronavirus.

McLeod Health partnered with The Blood Connection to make the drive happen.

The goal is to collect plasma from patients who have recovered from COVID-19 for those who are currently battling the virus.

“The idea is by providing these antibodies from a patient who has recovered to a patient who is infected… that currently infected patients’ immune systems may get a boost and help them clear the virus and recover,” Dr. Tarek Bishara explained. He is the Medical Director for Clinical Laboratories at McLeod Regional Medical Center.

Patients who had previously tested positive for the virus and have been without symptoms for two weeks were able to sign up for the drive.

“I just want to be helpful,” 20-year-old MaryAnna Emerson of Florence said. “I’m really excited to be out here.”

She says she came down with the virus in March.

“It was scary mainly because I underestimated it so much,” she said. “I flew home and got off the plane and a couple days later I started with the fever. And it just got worse and worse.”

Several others who had the virus signed up to give plasma Wednesday.

“There is a need,” Dr. Bishara said. “We’ve given the plasma to a number of patients already… We currently have a list of patients right now who are eligible for the plasma and we need units to give them.”

The treatment style has been studied during other outbreaks, such as H1N1. Although experts are still learning about its applicability to COVID-19, McLeod says several small clinical trials have showed promising results for some patients.

The Infectious Diseases and Critical Care teams at McLeod Health are participating in this trial led and developed by the United States Government and Mayo Clinic.

“It may be around for a long time where we’re going to get little pockets little flair ups and this gives physicians yet another therapy they can use to fight this disease,” The Blood Connection Medical Director Robert Rainer said. “Our ideal patient is somebody who hasn’t quite gone on the ventilator yet, but they’re heading that way. So we want to prevent the respiratory collapse, the inflammatory cascade.”

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