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).
Lehigh Valley Health Network includes eight hospital campuses, three in Allentown, one in Bethlehem, one in East Stroudsburg, one in Hazleton and two in Pottsville, Pa.; Coordinated Health, which includes two hospital campuses, nearly two dozen multispecialty locations including ambulatory surgery centers and orthopedic injury centers in northeastern Pennsylvania and western New Jersey; 26 health centers; numerous primary and specialty care physician practices; 22 ExpressCARE including the area’s only Children’s ExpressCARE; pharmacy, imaging, home health, rehabilitation, and lab services; and preferred provider services through Valley Preferred. Specialty care includes trauma care for adults and children, burn care at the Regional Burn Center, kidney and pancreas transplants; perinatal/neonatal, cardiac, cancer, orthopedics, neurology, complex neurosurgery capabilities including national certification as a Comprehensive Stroke Center, and robotic surgery in 10 specialties. Lehigh Valley Cancer Institute, Lehigh Valley Heart Institute, and Lehigh Valley Institute for Surgical Excellence physicians provide the most advanced treatments. The Lehigh Valley Cancer Institute is a member of the Memorial Sloan Kettering (MSK) Cancer Alliance, an initiative that helps community providers improve the quality of cancer care and offers access to MSK clinical trials. Lehigh Valley Reilly Children’s Hospital, the community’s only children’s hospital, provides care in more than 30 specialties and general pediatrics. Lehigh Valley Hospital–Cedar Crest is the region’s only hospital nationally ranked by U.S. News & World Report for orthopedics and has been recognized among Pennsylvania’s top five hospitals for six consecutive years. Lehigh Valley Hospital–Cedar Crest, Lehigh Valley Hospital–17th Street and Lehigh Valley Hospital–Muhlenberg are the region’s only Magnet® hospitals for nursing excellence. Additional information is available by visiting LVHN.org, or following us on Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, and Instagram.