Northside Hospital has a critical need for patients who recovered from COVID-19 to donate plasma to help treat other people fighting the coronavirus.
Northside Hospital uses the “convalescent” plasma collected by Atlanta Blood Services to treat certain patients diagnosed with COVID-19. The hospital said the presumption is that people who have fully recovered from COVID-19 have antibodies in their plasma that can attack the virus.
To be eligible to donate plasma, people must: be healthy; be at least 18 years old; have either a diagnosis of COVID-19 or a positive antibody test; have been asymptomatic for at least 14 days; have a negative test; and screen as a blood donor under federal Food and Drug Administration guidelines.
The hospital has been treating six to 15 patients per day with COVID-19, said Carrie Cox, executive director of Atlanta Blood Services.
“Overall, we’ve issued more than 300 units of convalescent plasma to patient treatments,” she said.
But the hospital is quickly running out of convalescent plasma, Cox said, with only a one-day supply on the shelf.
“And we need donors in every day so that we can hopefully start building up an inventory,” she said.
The current supply will become critical the weekend of July 19. Without an increase in donations, doctors’ requests for treatments will be delayed, Cox said.
Recovered COVID-19 patients who meet the criteria can donate once every eight days for a total of eight times in a year, she said.
“Our goal is to collect 1,000 units of convalescent plasma, or more; if results do show the plasma is beneficial, we’re committed to collecting as much plasma we need to help the people throughout the country,” Dr. H. Kent Holland, medical director of the Blood and Marrow Transplant Program at Northside Hospital and the Atlanta Blood Services plasma collection facility, said in a press release.
The hospital looks at historical data as a benchmark to compare it to possible benefits of convalescent plasma. Its staff are also examining health care workers who have been exposed to the coronavirus to determine if convalescent plasma reduces their change of severe infections.
Convalescent plasma’s use is not new, having been used for over 100 years to treat such diseases as the H1N1 influenza, polio, measles, Ebola and SARS, according to Holland.
Cox said with more donations Northside Hospital first wants to maintain its current cases, which are increasing with the spike in the number of COVID-19 cases in Georgia.
“But we also want to have some in inventory in case we see a second wave, which health officials are getting us prepared for,” she said.
Northside Hospital’s administration is making sure convalescent plasma is a priority, right up there with a vaccine, she said. “It’s really one of the few treatment options that we have available.”
“We have the power to be able to do something right now,” she said. Not every recovered COVID-19 patient will be able to donate plasma. But those who have recovered have an opportunity to give back and help someone who is having a very hard time with their symptoms, she said.
Atlanta Blood Services has a location at Northside Hospital in the first floor of the gold parking garage at 5670 Peachtree-Dunwoody Road, Suite 1075, Sandy Springs. It also has a location at 220 Cobb Parkway North in Marietta. For more information or to schedule an appointment to donate plasma, call 404-477-1299 or visit atlantabloodservices.com.