St. Joseph Mercy Hospital treats first COVID-19 patient with plasma from coronavirus survivor

ANN ARBOR, MI – St. Joseph Mercy Hospital in Ann Arbor treated its first hospitalized COVID-19 patient Sunday, April 19, with plasma donated by a recovered patient as part of a nationwide experimental program working to cure the disease.

The patient is one of 11 in the in the St. Joseph Mercy Health System participating in the Mayo Clinic’s Coordinated Expanded Access to Convalescent Plasma Program, according to a St. Joseph Mercy Health System statement.

The patients are being treated in the health system’s hospitals in Ann Arbor, Canton, Oakland, Muskegon and Livonia and are among 200 patients who registered for the treatment trial nationally, officials said.

“Early participation in this program is due in part to our robust oncology research program, which gave us the ability to quickly develop our plasma program to respond in the hopes of helping to bring forward a treatment for COVID-19 as soon as possible,” Dr. Anurag Malani, medical director for infection prevention and control, said in the release. “Our focus now is to spread the word to those who have had COVID to donate their plasma for use in this program.”

New Michigan coronavirus cases of 633 is daily low for month of April

COVID-19 figures released Sunday, April 19, by the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services show 633 new cases reported, more than 100 less than the 768 cases on Saturday and 760 on Friday.

Sunday’s numbers raise the total COVID-19 cases in Michigan to 31,424, with 2,391 total deaths, up 83. The number of daily deaths is up slightly from 81 reported on Saturday.

Data shows 3,237 people have recovered from COVID-19.

It is hypothesized in the program that patients with COVID-19 may improve faster if they receive plasma from those who have recovered from the disease caused by the novel coronavirus, as their blood likely contains antibodies, which are capable of fighting the virus that causes the illness, the release states.

The experimental treatment program is reserved for patients who are hospitalized with severe or life-threatening COVID-19 symptoms or are at risk of developing severe or life-threatening symptoms, officials said.

Initial data from the plasma program indicates that a single infusion has shown benefit for some of the patients in the trial, health officials said.

At this time it is not certain if the treatment will or will not help those with COVID-19, or if there are any harmful side effects associated with it, but it is one of the only treatments available for the disease at the moment, officials said.

Being part of the national Expanded Access Program, focused on providing treatment with new drugs and medical practices, the program will help researchers collect important information on the patients who received the treatment, the release states.

Those who have recovered from COVID-19, which means being 28 days symptom free, are encouraged to register online at and click on “learn more” in the Convalescent Plasma section to find out how to help.

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In addition to the plasma program, St. Joe’s Ann Arbor is also one of only two sites in Michigan to participate in the Gilead’s Remdesivir Expanded Access Program, which uses an experimental antiviral drug, identified by the World Health Organization as one of the most promising treatments in treating COVID-19 positive patients, the release states.

Only patients with the most severe cases of the virus requiring ventilator support are eligible for this program. St Joe’s has registered 16 patients in the trial to date.

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In addition to washing hands regularly and not touching your face, officials recommend practicing social distancing, assuming anyone may be carrying the virus.

Health officials say you should be staying at least 6 feet away from others and working from home, if possible.

Carry hand sanitizer with you, and use disinfecting wipes or disinfecting spray cleaners on frequently-touched surfaces in your home (door handles, faucets, counter tops) and when you go into places like stores.

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