Survivors of COVID-19: Hospitals want to test your blood for potential life-saving therapy

The plasma of COVID-19 patients could be a life-saving treatment for others.

Hackensack University Medical Center has received approval from the federal government to begin recruiting recovered and recovering coronavirus patients to test for antibodies in their plasma, the liquid component in blood.

The convalescent plasma — plasma from survivors of an infectious disease — could allow experts to develop an effective therapy to treat the virus in severely ill patients.

“These antibodies may help other patients who are infected with COVID-19,” according to a statement on the hospital’s website. “Patients with promising antibodies will be asked to come back to donate an additional blood sample which may be helpful for sick COVID-19 patients.”

The therapy itself is still awaiting approval, which the hospital said, “we hope to receive soon” from the FDA.

The use of convalescent plasma to treat infectious disease dates back a hundred years. It was used to combat the 1918 influenza pandemic and measles in the U.S.

It’s not clear whether convalescent plasma therapy will prove to be an effective treatment against COVID-19, the disease caused by the coronavirus. But many health experts remain hopeful. And in the absence of a vaccine or any other viable treatment, it appears to be one of the few promising options health officials have at their disposal.

In one recent study published late last month, doctors in China treated five critically ill COVID-19 patients with convalescent plasma containing antibodies. All five recovered.

The study said that preliminary findings “raise the possibility that convalescent plasma transfusion may be helpful in the treatment of critically ill patients with COVID-19.”

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