South Georgia Medical Center joined the national COVID-19 Convalescent Plasma study led by Mayo Clinic and recently treated their first COVID-19 patient with convalescent plasma. Experimental but recently approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA), this refers to blood plasma collected from people who have recovered from COVID-19. Once donated from a recovered patient that fits the inclusion criteria, that plasma is utilized to treat patients with advanced COVID-19 illness.
When did SGMC get accepted into this national study?
This past Monday they were accepted and registered as a participating site. Now patients admitted to the hospital with proven SARS-CoV-2 infection may enroll in the clinical trial.
Is this therapy proven?
No. This is an investigational therapy and hence why it required FDA approval. There is no known safe and effective treatment for COVID-19. As in any clinical research study, it is unknown if the treatment will be therapeutic and there are risks involved. However, based on its use to treat other viral infections, researchers hypothesize that the plasma from recovered patients may contain antibodies that may help fight the disease.
To qualify to donate the plasma, the donor must have recovered from COVID-19 and be otherwise eligible to donate blood. After donation, the blood is processed in the lab to obtain the plasma component. The plasma, which contains antibodies that may attack the virus and help to speed up recovery is then infused into the patient.
When can they determine if it works?
Dr. Brian Dawson, Chief Medical Officer, reports that after a few days they can determine if the infusion is actually therapeutic.
How many have been treated?
Thus far, just one patient, and Dr. Dawson reports they have two other ill patients that they are seeking transfusions for. This means they need donations now.
The Request is Urgent
SGMC has an urgent need for convalescent plasma donors. Lives are potentially at stake here. Hence why the health provider is requesting that those who were tested positive for the SARS-CoV-2 virus and recovered to donate plasma at Life South Community Blood Centers. This donation will be processed to make the convalescent plasma required for the clinical trial.
Are donations local?
Yes. All donations collection by LifeSouth will stay in the community and will be used exclusively for SGMC patients. The donation is processed locally and utilized for the national clinical trial—locally.
Where does one donate?
LifeSouth. Call them at 888-795-2707 if one fits the inclusion criteria.
How does Mayo Clinic fit in?
They are the sponsor of this study. They provide coordinated access to investigational convalescent plasma for hospital patients with severe or life-threatening COVID-19, or those that are at risk for the development for severe illness as judged by their doctors. They were designated by the FDA to lead this critically important effort on April 3. Enrollment in the study is based on the protocol’s preset exclusion and inclusion criteria and on the availability of an appropriate blood-type matched unit of convalescent plasma. Being admitted to SGMC with COVID-19 does not guarantee a patient will qualify for this trial, and even if a patient does qualify, because of probable limited convalescent plasma supplies, the patient may not be enrolled in this study and receive convalescent plasma. All participants will sign informed consent as required by the Mayo’s Institutional Review Board, a committee tasked with protecting the rights and welfare of human subjects
Who is South Georgia Medical Center?
SGMC has been in operation since the 1950s. A not-for-profit medical system, they are dedicated to being the leader in improving the health, wellness and quality of life in the community. SGMC includes 373 licensed beds and more than 300 affiliated physician and 2,600 employees serving 380,000 residents across a 15-county service area. SGMC is fully accredited by the Joint Commission, the highest mark of quality in the healthcare field and they have earned additional recognition at the state and national level.
Does SGMC conduct other clinical trials?
Yes, SGMC does participate in this study as well as others. They are a clinical investigational site as well as community health provider.
Dr. Brian Dawson, Chief Medical Officer
Call to Action: If you reside in Southern Georgia and have recovered from COVID-19, reach out to LifeSouth and consider donating. LifeSouth can be reached at 888-795-2707.