A coronavirus patient at Methodist Hospital | Stone Oak was the first in San Antonio to receive an experimental transfusion of blood plasma from a recovered donor.
Dr. Rick Marple, chief medical officer for Stone Oak, said in a statement Thursday night that the hospital’s sickest COVID-19 patients stand to benefit from convalescent plasma therapy, in the absence of other treatments.
“We are investigating treatment options that have safely and successfully healed patients with this aggressive virus,” Marple said. “As previously used to treat other alike diseases, we believe using convalescent therapy may help neutralize the virus.”
There is a long history of transfusions of convalescent plasma being used to fight other contagions without a vaccine or cure, including for the 1918 flu and, more recently, with the Ebola virus. The treatment seeks to equip severely ill patients’ immune systems with antibodies from people who have successfully fought off the novel virus.
On ExpressNews.com: ‘It’s the best that we’ve got’: San Antonio COVID-19 patients to receive plasma from donors who recovered from the virus
Earlier this week, the South Texas Blood and Tissue Center collected its first unit of convalescent plasma from a San Antonio man who recently recovered from the virus after experiencing few symptoms. The blood bank said it delivered the plasma to the hospital on Thursday afternoon.
Because supportive care, such as oxygen and the aid of ventilators, has not always proved effective for the sickest COVID-19 patients, the Food and Drug Administration has allowed blood centers to collect plasma from recovered patients so that hospitals can transfuse it into critically ill patients.
Hospitals across the country, including elsewhere in Texas, are collecting and sharing data on their plasma patients, as part of an expedited clinical trial for the therapy.
Some hospitals in San Antonio are also participating in studies of other possible treatments for COVID-19, including antiviral drugs that are still under development.
On ExpressNews.com: San Antonio coronavirus patients enrolled in trial of promising antiviral drug
As of Thursday, 85 people were hospitalized in San Antonio with COVID-19, including 55 receiving intensive care and 42 being supported by ventilators. Such patients could be candidates for experimental treatments if their conditions fail to improve.
Twenty-two people in Bexar County have died after being infected with the coronavirus.
San Antonio’s blood center is accepting plasma from suitable donors who have tested positive for the virus and meet the requirements for recovery. Former COVID-19 patients who are interested in being donors can be screened by emailing COVID19@southtexasblood.org.
Lauren Caruba covers health care and medicine in the San Antonio and Bexar County area. To read more from Lauren, become a subscriber. firstname.lastname@example.org | Twitter: @LaurenCaruba