Monday, June 1, 2020
Got Antibodies You’d Like to Donate to Fight COVID-19?
St. Luke’s Magic Valley, which hosted a number of Wood River Valley residents in its COVID Ward on the fourth floor, will be among the hospitals receiving donated plasma to use with critically ill patients.
Thursday, April 30, 2020


Got plasma you’d like to donate to save the life of someone fighting COVID-19?

The ability to do so is within reach—at least, a reach of 150 miles.

St. Luke’s hospitals are now taking part in a trial study to see whether critically ill patients can benefit from plasma containing the antibodies of those who have recovered from COVID-19.

While there is currently no approved treatment for COVID-19, doctors believe that convalescent, or survivor, plasma contains neutralizing antibodies that might reduce the severity and the intensity of the disease, boosting a patient’s chance for recovery.

Plasma from one person can be used to treat two to three other patients, said Kenneth Bramwell, one of the leads on St. Luke’s Medical/Technical team under the hospital Incident Command Structure for COVID-19.

On Tuesday doctors at Saint Alphonsus Regional Medical Center in Boise became the first in Idaho to attempt Convalescent Plasma Therapy by transfusing plasma donated by a person who had recovered from COVID-19 into a critically ill patient.

West Valley Medical Center in Caldwell is also participating in the same study that St. Luke’s is taking part in.

The therapy gives doctors a tool they can work with now while the world awaits an approved treatment and a vaccine. It is used in many cases for patients who are critically ill before they go into respiratory failure and need a ventilator.

“I would describe the initial results with patients treated with Convalescent Plasma Therapy as promising—or, at least interesting,” said Bramwell. “The challenge that we have is that the data are coming from small studies that are more like individual cases or case series. There has not yet been a placebo-control trial, which would compare this treatment to something directly. So, the truth is that this is very early information and there is a lot of national interest currently.”

Unfortunately, donations are only being collected in Boise, due to the American Red Cross’s limited equipment.

“But, given the prevalence of the disease in Blaine County it would be helpful to have donations from those patients,” said Bramwell.

St. Luke’s is partnering with the American Red Cross to provide plasma as a part of the Food and Drug Administration’s approved emergency investigational New Drug. It’s using Mayo Clinical protocol.

The American Red Cross of Idaho acquires, screens and types the plasma from donors. It then provides the harvested plasma to local blood banks. From there it will go to St. Luke’s hospitals in Boise and Magic Valley, where Blaine County’s most critically ill COVID-19 patients have been treated, as well as Meridian and Nampa.

Potential recipients will be identified by critical care providers in those locations in collaboration with Infectious Disease and the principal investigator from Clinical Research.

Initially, fewer than 10 percent of potential recovered donors met the FDA’s COVID-19 eligibility requirements. Most were turned away by the lack of a confirmed diagnostic positive test result.

The Red Cross is now partnering with Creative Testing Solutions (CTS) to test recovered donors for COVID-19 antibodies using the Ortho SARS-CoV-2 antibody test. This allows the Red Cross to simplify the eligibility process, qualify more potential donors and move them quickly through to donation.

With antibody testing, an initial positive test result is no longer required. That will allow the Red Cross to greatly expand its donor pool by accepting both confirmed and presume positive donors while ensuring that those individuals did have the virus.

The American Red Cross implemented antibody screening of potentially recovered COVID-19 donors on Monday. That move should advance its convalescent plasma program significantly. That has enabled the Red Cross to supply convalescent plasma units five-fold over the past week and it’s expected the supplies will grow even more significantly in the coming days.

“By qualifying a large eligible donor base, we can more effectively collect the necessary supplies of convalescent plasma to meet the growing needs of our hospitals,” said Dr. Pampee P. Young, chief medical officer for the American Red Cross.

Still, demand exceeds supply and turnaround time on an order placement is estimated to take a week. The Red Cross, however, estimates this to improve markedly as it ramps up plasma harvest.

If you have tested positive for COVID-19 or believe you’ve had it and want to donate your plasma, visit





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