COVID-19 survivor's plasma used in treatment at Baptist Health

Published: Apr. 1, 2020 at 10:02 PM EDT
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Doctors at Baptist Health are taking a new approach to treat COVID-19 patients in Lexington.

"We have a number of patients who are becoming very ill, critically ill with respiratory failure and failure of multiple organs," Dr. Mark Dougherty, Hospital Epidemiologist at Baptist Health Lexington said.

On Sunday, doctors used plasma from a recovered COVID-19 patient as a potential treatment for two critically ill patients with the virus.

Baptist Health and the Kentucky Blood Center worked together to fast track the treatment.

Plasma from the recovered patient contained antibodies made by the immune system that are used to kill the COVID-19 virus. The hope is the transfused plasma might help the severely ill patients fight the virus.

"I think both of them started to have some improvement," Dr. Firas Badin, Medical Director for Oncology Research said. "Now it's hard to tell whether they are improving because of the plasma and investigational approach that we did or just because of the disease course."

The treatment is similar to ones used during the Spanish flu pandemic of 1918, and more recently, the influenza A (H1N1) pandemic of 2009 and the Ebola virus outbreak of 2014.

"Kentucky Blood Center was thrilled to assist our partners at Baptist Health in this cutting-edge medical treatment," said Kentucky Blood Center CEO Bill Reed. "Lifesaving is our business, and we hope that this treatment option proves to be a new tool in the fight to save COVID-19 patients in Kentucky."

The FDA and Institutional Review Board approved the treatment plan.

People who have tested positive for COVID-19 may be contacted to see if they are willing to donate plasma if they meet the parameters.