Blood Plasma: Treatment Chance for Coronavirus

Blood plasma taken from Covid-19 survivors, after 14 days from their recovery, might help the patients fight the illness off.
Blood Plasma: Treatment Chance for Coronavirus
A recovered COVID-19 patient who has passed his 14-day quarantine, donates plasma in Wuhan. MIT Technology Review / AP

A new hope has surfaced now that plasma donation has started in Turkey. The first donator for this treatment was Dr. Kürşat Demir, a doctor who has recovered from COVID-19. The procedure, called Immune Plasma Treatment, was first studied in China and now this treatment has started to be used in Turkey, creating a distinct chance to recover from Coronavirus.

Plasma Donation Transfusions of blood serum from people who’ve recovered from Covid-19 could help severe cases recover, according to the study from China.

What is plasma donation

The concept of using blood from survivors, or “convalescent plasma”, isn’t new, but it’s now being tried against Covid-19 because there aren’t any drugs known to work yet. A survivor’s blood is charged up with antibodies against the virus. During the procedure, these are given to someone else, for them to be able to give a temporary assist by interfering with the virus until that person mounts an immune response.

Positive result in China

The Chinese study authored by scientists working for state-owned Sinopharm, wasn’t randomized, so benefits from plasma aren’t proven with certainty. But the 10 severely affected patients they treated with a half a Coke can’s worth of plasma seemed to do much better after three days. In several of the patients, the virus cleared up entirely, leading the authors to conclude that plasma “can serve as a promising rescue option” for severe Covid-19 cases. The report follows a previous one from China involving five patients.

US hospitals have been scrambling to find blood donors and are starting to try plasma transfusions, too. The American Association of Blood Banks has set up a web page so people recovered from covid-19 can find out where to donate blood. So has the Red Cross. People must be “fully recovered” to donate. The US Food and Drug Administration says people should wait 14 days after symptoms to donate blood.

Turkish Kızılay's call for donation

Immune Plasma Treatment has started in Turkey led by the Ministry of Health together with Turkish Kızılay. The General Director of Turkish Kızılay Kerem Kınık stated, "We have started the plasma collecting in 10 cities, 13 centers. 4 mobile trucks in each city will go to the patients' houses. As Kızılay we are in a position where we can take plasma from 750 donators. We are inviting all our healthy heroes, who have completed their 14 days after their recovery and who embody the necessities to give blood, to also become heroes of our patients that are fighting the Covid-19 virus currently. We will take their plasmas 3 times in total, leaving 1 week free in between. One person will be the cure for 6 people. They will be able to pull 6 people from the death shore to life."

*Some of the information above about the procedure is taken from the MIT Technology Review website on April 7th, 2020.


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