Earlier this year, the FDA granted emergency use authorization for a treatment known as convalescent plasma therapy. This therapy uses blood donated by people who’ve recovered from COVID-19 in patients who are ill and not responding to other treatments.
Pulmonologist Karan Omidvari has been on the COVID-19 front lines since March.
“I was actually what we call the screener. I was the guy who would go in and see them and see which ones needed to come to the intensive care unit.” Dr. Omidvari said.
On April 7th, Omidvari went from doctor to COVID-19 patient. He was so sick. He drove himself to his own emergency room.
“It’s almost like drowning, obviously you’re not underwater, but you feel like you cannot get enough oxygen to your tissue.” Omidvari said.
Omidvari’s colleagues put him on a ventilator, and watched as his condition went from bad to worse.
“They were like kind of getting, from what my wife says, getting her prepared that I might not make it.” Omidvari said.
That’s when doctors made the call to try convalescent plasma therapy. Scientists start with blood from recovered COVID-19 patients.
“The red blood cells are separated out and you’re left with this yellowish gold liquid, which has plasma that contains antibodies.” said David Perlin, Ph.D, Chief Scientific Officer at Hackensack Meridian Center for Discovery and Innovation.
An infusion of the plasma is designed to boost a sick patient’s immune response.
48 hours after Karan Omidvari was treated, he was off the ventilator. Three weeks later, Omidvari’s colleagues cheered him on as he was released from the medical center.
“I personally believe nothing else was working and the plasma worked. And, it could be just my case. So far, as far as I can see, it’s still the only hope we have, the only thing that’s working.” Omidvari said.