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Can plasma transfusion help those fighting COVID-19?

Dr. Donald Davenport of Medical Center Hospital says that it's the best option we have to treat for the virus right now.

ODESSA, Texas — At Medical Center Hospital, plasma transfusion is currently only available to those most critically ill with COVid-19 right now.

"It is restricted for those individuals that are hospitalized whose health conditions are worsening or in a critical nature," Dr. Donald Davenport, Co-Interim Chief Medical Officer at MCH said.

But how does a plasma transfusion work? How is it supposed to fight off COVID-19? Antibodies.

"An antibody which is carried in plasma helps our body inherently fight disease at a later time once our body has encountered that disease," Dr. Davenport said.

These antibodies are designed to help you fight off the virus once it enters your system. However, not many people have received a plasma transfusion containing these COVID-19 antibodies. MCH hasn't had enough time to see if using these antibodies from patients who have recovered from the virus will work to fight off the virus in people who are currently sick.

"We have two patients at this point in time that have received the transfusion. Now the recognition is that this is investigational still, the whole understanding of patient recovery is unknown," Dr. Davenport said.

But even though we don't know if this is guaranteed to work or not, it's become a necessary step that doctors are having to take to treat this virus.

"Due to the severity of the illness in the organ dysfunction of the individuals can acquire, that’s why we're using it. It’s more or less a life or death use of the plasma," Dr. Davenport said. "We don’t have anything else that is available to us from a known that will help them improve."

Now Dr. Davenport says that there are ways that the community help. He is asking that those who have tested positive for COVID-19 and have since recovered to consider donating plasma to help those who are currently hospitalized with the virus.

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