Over 400 Intermountain Healthcare (IHC) COVID-19 patients have been administered convalescent plasma as part of the National Expanded Access Treatment Protocol approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration and led by Mayo Clinic. Dr. Brandon Webb chairs the IHC COVID-19 Therapeutics team and recently interacted with local Salt Lake City media, noting IHC joined the protocol with the first such plasma transfusion in Utah April 17, 2020 for a 24-year old patient from Murray Utah named Cynthia Lemus. Utah residents infected with SARS-CoV-2 now have access to this treatment and IHC can use support to help fight COVID-19: those who have recovered from COVID-19 can donate plasma as this may help others who are presently ill with COVID-19.
The recent interview with ABC 4 Salt Lake City indicates that convalescent plasma has been used in past with other respiratory conditions, while additionally information out of China indicated convalescent plasma could possibly reduce the severity and length of the illness associated with SARS-CoV-2 infection, the virus behind COVID-19.
As most who fall ill due to COVID-19 produce antibodies after infection, which helps the immune system fight off the pathogen, these are available in the plasma of the recovered patients. There are no guarantees that this works but researchers are certainly hopeful that such antibodies may help those very sick patients fight off the virus.
Convalescent plasma is considered investigational and access comes via the National Expanded Access Treatment Protocol; TrialSite has reported the results are safe. However more data will be required for evidence of efficacy. TrialSite reports other positive observations such as those at University Hospital of Ghent. A physician can request permission to use the treatment for an individual in emergency circumstances as well. Dr. Webb reports to ABC 4 “Convalescent plasma is one of the multiple investigative therapies that we are making available to patients, in addition to best-practice supportive care.” Dr. Webb emphasized to the Utah-based media that the learning is ongoing and unfolding as major health systems such as IHC determine which COVID-19 investigational treatments are more effective.
IHC communicated that hospitalized patient access to convalescent plasma is assessed and initiated on a case-by-case basis as well as conditional on severity levels, blood type, etc. Dr. Webb commented, “As the donor pool grows, we hope to expand those receiving the treatment.”
Daanish Hoda, MD and hematology expert as well as director of the Intermountain Hematologic Malignancy Department, emphasized, “Individuals who have recovered from COVID-19 may be able to help others fighting this disease by supplying antibodies in their plasma that can attack the virus.” Dr. Hoda emphasized one donation can benefit up to four patients.
According to Becker’s Hospital Review rankings in 2019, the 31st largest health system in the nation with 24 hospitals, the nonprofit health system also includes 160 clinics while employing 38,000. The system also includes a 2,400 physician medical group and a health plan.
Call to Action: If you are based in Utah or somewhere in the Intermountain West where IHC has hospitals, you have recovered from COVID-19, and are interested in contributing your plasma, consider the following points: 1) standard blood donor precautions apply 2) those recovered COVID-19 patients that have met the inclusion criteria must have access to their positive COVID-19 test results 3) exhibit no symptoms for at least 28 day. Also to register to donate send an email to COVID19Plasma@imail.org; also for more information visit Intermountain Healthcare via Blog, YouTube, Twitter, or Facebook.