BOISE, Idaho — Doctors at Saint Alphonsus Regional Medical Center in Boise became the first in Idaho to attempt Convalescent Plasma Therapy for the treatment of the novel coronavirus, COVID-19.
On Tuesday, Saint Alphonsus Hematologist and Oncology Hospitalist Dr. Richard Miranda supervised the transfusion of plasma donated by a person who recovered from the virus into a critically-ill patient. The donated plasma contains neutralizing antibodies to fight the virus and transfusing it into a COVID-19 infected patient has the potential of increasing the chance for recovery and survival.
“This type of therapy is available now, instead of waiting months for a vaccine,” Dr. Miranda said. “Our hope is to be able to administer this plasma to a patient who is in our COVID unit, before the disease progresses to respiratory failure and the patient needs to be on a ventilator in Intensive Care.”
Dr. Miranda says similar plasma antibody therapies were used to treat other viruses, including the Spanish Flu pandemic in 1918, SARS in 2003, H1N1 in 2009, and MERS in 2012.
The plasma therapy is coordinated with the American Red Cross of Idaho, which acquires, screens and types the plasma from appropriate donors. Saint Alphonsus and other healthcare providers in the region are actively reaching out to recovered COVID-19 patients, encouraging them to contact the Red Cross and donate plasma for this potentially life-saving treatment.
Dr. Miranda stressed the need for patients who have tested positive and recovered from the COVID-19 virus to donate; he said the number of patients who might benefit from the therapy far exceeds the available plasma. One donation of plasma may treat two to three patients.
Patients must donate plasma within 30 days of recovering from COVID-19. To donate, contact the Red Cross.