Lehigh Valley, Pa.,
16:02 PM

LVHN Participates in COVID-19 Convalescent Plasma Program

Plasma donations from recovered COVID-19 patients are key to a successful program.

Those who have recovered from COVID-19 may be able to help patients currently fighting the infection by donating their plasma.

When a person contracts a virus like COVID-19, their immune system creates antibodies to fight the virus. Those who have completely recovered from COVID-19 may have immune-boosting antibodies in their plasma—called “convalescent plasma”—that could be used to treat critically ill COVID-19 patients. This provides a boost to the immune system of the sick patient and may help speed the recovery process.

Miller-Keystone Blood Center and American Red Cross are strongly encouraging plasma donations from recovered COVID-19 patients. Plasma (the liquid part of our blood) cannot be manufactured by a pharmaceutical company. Therefore, we are dependent upon donations from recovered patients to ensure that we have a continued supply of this investigational therapy.

A recovered COVID-19 patient can donate plasma 28 days after their symptoms have resolved or 14 days if they receive a negative COVID-19 test. All patients interested in donations will have the same screening performed on all blood product donors.

"At the present time, no medications have been proven to treat this illness. We are eager to offer any potential interventions like convalescent plasma that might make a difference for our critically-ill COVID-19 patients. The only way we can continue to offer this option to patients and gather the data to determine if this treatment works if for people to donate plasma,” said Dr. Timothy Friel, Chair of the Department of Medicine with Lehigh Valley Health Network.

The FDA is permitting the use of convalescent plasma as an investigational treatment for patients with moderate or severe COVID-19 infection. It is considered an investigational treatment because clinical studies have started but have not yet been completed. The convalescent plasma program is an extension of an ongoing program overseen by the Mayo Clinic. Lehigh Valley Health Network is part of this national compassionate use trial, and so far, has treated six COVID-19 patients with convalescent plasma. There is a waiting list of other COVID-19 patients awaiting plasma matches.

To become a convalescent plasma donor, contact the MyLVHN Nurse Line at 888-402-LVHN (5846).

To learn more, visit LVHN.org/COVID19, Miller-Keystone Blood Center at GiveaPint.org, or the Red Cross Donation Center at RedCrossBlood.org.