(ST. JOSEPH, Mo.) Community blood centers are starting to collect plasma from people who have had and recovered from COVID-19.
Health experts said they aren't sure if convalescent plasma from recovered patients will help people infected with the virus, but said it's worth trying.
“We don’t know that this therapy helps, but we don’t know if any therapy helps,”said Jed Gorling, medical director of the Community Blood Center in Kansas City.
Recovered coronavirus patients can produce antibodies that health experts said are showing some signs of helping infected patients in the early stages of the virus.
“There are small case series from China suggesting it might help if given early enough,”said Gorling.
Health experts said the hope isn't that the antibodies prevent or completely treat COVID-19, but rather that they make the infection less severe.
“Because 80% of people it’s a bad flu-like illness and they get over it fine. So, if we could push more people from the severe complications into the annoying but survivable illness, then that’s the goal,”said Gorling.
To donate, a person must have documentation of their infection, be a healthy blood donor and 14 days symptom free.
Medical directors said the first eligible patients in the midwest should start rolling in.
“In the midwest, the first cases only popped up in the beginning of March. It takes about 14 days to get through it and then another 14 days symptom free so now only a few people are now starting to be eligible which correlates well with today being our first day of collection at the Kansas City blood collections centers,”said Gorling.
The University of Kansas Health Systems announced on Tuesday they've been approved to start trials. Medical professionals said donors must be symptom free.
“It kinda comes and goes in waves a little bit and so we need you to get pretty free of that before you’re going to be donating to make sure that you aren’t donating live virus,”said Dr. Steve Stites, chief medical officer at KU Health Systems.
There is a sign up sheet on the Kansas City's Community Blood Center's website for recovered COVID-19 patients to donate plasma.
Testing will begin on the antibodies collected in two to three weeks at the center's sister center in Rhode Island.