DIGITAL EXCLUIVE: Convalescent plasma remains a need for area hospitals during the pandemic

Local News

Convalescent plasma – you’ve likely heard the term more in the past year than ever before. It is a way to treat patients with COVID-19.  

“Convalescent plasma is basically plasma taken from patients who have already been sick with an illness and developed antibodies because they recovered. Within their plasma following their illness and recovery, we know there is likely antibodies present which may help potentially fight disease in a separate patient,” Dr. Peter Depowski, Physician & Chief of Pathology at UPMC Hamot. 

Although the term is more prominent during the pandemic, Dr. Depowski says using convalescent plasma is not a new way of treating patients from illness and viruses. In regard to treating COVID–19, here is what’s doctors are seeing with this form of treatment so far through studies and experience:  

“It appears that possibly the treatment with convalescent plasma may be shifting now. Instead of using it in the very sickest patients where maybe it’s not as effective as we thought it would be, we’re shifting that now to patients with mild to moderate symptoms early on. What it can potentially help do is prevent severe disease,” says Depowski. 

As hospitals continue to admit COVID-19 patients, the need for convalescent plasma donations from recovered patients remains strong.  

“The great thing about plasma is we can freeze it. We can have that plasma stored for one year. If we have patients donating, what they donate now can be used in 2 months if we get some very sick patients or we get the strategy where we want to use a lot of this early on, we have it available,” says Depowski 

The  Community Blood Bank supplies COVID convalescent plasma (CCP) to the Erie hospitals. They have been drawing the plasma from recovered COVID-19 patients since last April. 

“The need has really continued. Cases continue to surge in the United States and here locally we have certainly had a number of cases especially in the last few months,” says Deanna Renaud, Executive Director of the Community Blood Bank.  

If you are a recovered patient wanting to donate plasma, the Community Blood Bank is asking that you wait until you are 21 days symptom free (including loss of taste and smell), and that you have not had the COVID-19 vaccine to donate.  

“A lot of people when they come in to donate CCP they’re so passionate about it because with the pandemic it a huge problem they want to help people who are suffering from COVID,” says Renaud. 

One person who took the time to donate and make a difference is Noah Morgan. 

“I think it’s great to give back. Just for 30 to 40 minutes I can help a lot of people,” says Morgan.  

In addition to plasma, the Community Blood Bank is also in urgent need of red blood cell donations. 

“Red cells, platelets, and CCP is going to go to someone who needs it. Right now, red cell donors are really needed,” says Renaud.  

Click here to get more information on how to donate. You can also call the Community Blood Bank at (814) 456-4206. 

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