Overland Park, KS — HCA Midwest Health —Kansas City's leading healthcare provider— today announced it is one of the first in the region to transfuse donated blood plasma from a fully recovered COVID-19 patient into a critically ill patient.

Known as convalescent serum therapy, the clinical transfusion occurred when physician specialists at Research Medical Center received donated blood plasma from a New York City COVID-19 survivor. They collaborated with Menorah Medical Center physicians, transfusing one critically ill patient infected with the virus and hospitalized at Menorah Medical Center.

"Convalescent serum therapy may be a vital treatment route for treating COVID- 19 because, unfortunately, there is relatively little to offer many patients except supportive care--and time is of the essence to treat these critically ill patients," says Marjorie Wongskhaluang, M.D., infectious disease specialist and co-investigator at Research Medical Center. "Plasma collected from individuals who have recovered from COVID-19 contains antibodies against this deadly virus that may indeed help fight the infection and improve outcomes. Prior experience has shown a benefit from convalescent plasma in other viral diseases."

To date, there is no proven therapy for individuals who are diagnosed with COVID-19. Over the last century, plasma has been used from patients who have recovered from other viral infections to help prevent and treat infection in people who are exposed to the same virus. Recent examples of this approach have occurred during outbreaks of coronaviruses like SARS-1, and Middle East Respiratory Syndrome (MERS).

China was the first to use convalescent plasma during this current COVID-19 pandemic, but limited data is available from initial studies to determine if this treatment is effective. More than 170 HCA Healthcare facilities are participating in a nationwide expanded access protocol to make this therapy more widely available. Participation in the study enables patients with severe or life threatening COVID-19 infections to receive this potentially life-saving therapy and allows investigators to gather more data to determine if the therapy is effective.

"Physicians like Dr. Wongskhaluang and I, along with our staff across HCA Healthcare, are collaborating on a national level with the support of BARDA and various blood suppliers, including the Community Blood Center of Kansas City and the American Red Cross, to provide what we hope is a breakthrough therapy for COVID-19," says Joseph Restivo, D.O., transfusion medicine specialist and co-investigator at Research Medical Center. "Together, we have all been working to make this treatment available as quickly as possible for our patients in critical need. None of this would be possible without the generosity of plasma donors who have had COVID-19 and are now recovered."

"Although the patient is tolerating the treatment well, it is too early to determine the final response," Dr. Wongskhaluang says. "While we are guardedly optimistic, this patient is still in critical condition. The expertise and experience of the Menorah Medical Center physicians and caregivers should be commended for the care they have provided, as well as the love and support from the family. This is a difficult time for the patient and family, but the therapy provides us all hope for the treatment of COVID-19 hospitalized patients."

For more information about COVID-19 plasma donation and participation this COVID-19 study, please call HCA Midwest Health's helpline (833) 582-1971, effective 8:30am CST, Tuesday, April 21, 2020.

View the story on KSHB

tags: covid-19