Using Plasma from Recovered COVID-19 Patients
The FDA recently approved emergency use of COVID-19 "convalescent" plasma, which is collected from people who have fully recovered from COVID-19. This provides an additional investigational therapy treatment option for critically ill patients.
People who have recovered from COVID-19 – those who previously tested positive and are now asymptomatic and test negative – have built up high levels of antibodies to SARS-CoV-2 (the virus that causes COVID-19) that defend their body against the virus. Collecting plasma from a recovered individual and then injecting it into a person still fighting the virus could help stimulate a stronger immune response in the sick individual.
Convalescent plasma is collected using a specialized machine that separates red blood cells from the plasma, selectively culling plasma (which contains the antibodies needed to fight the virus) and returning red blood cells back to the donor. The convalescent plasma is then stored in a blood bank and can be used to transfuse critically ill patients.
At UT Southwestern, we’re carefully screening patients who are interested in donating plasma. Donors of COVID-19 convalescent plasma need to meet specific criteria to ensure safety of the donor and staff, and are based on FDA requirements.
Patients, family members, and physicians can learn more about donating or acquiring plasma, including eligibility requirements and the screening and donation process.