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Fitzgibbon Hospital administers First Unit of Convalescent Plasma

October 23, 2020

            Fitzgibbon Hospital in Marshall recently administered its first unit of convalescent plasma, which is an emerging therapy for treatment of patients with COVID-19. This marks the first time Fitzgibbon has used the investigational therapy. By all reports, the procedure went well.

“This is a promising therapy that can be used at Fitzgibbon Hospital. As with all COVID therapies, it will be used based on patient need and current recommendations from the CDC and FDA,” said Melanie Elfrink, MD, the attending physician at Fitzgibbon Hospital who is part of the group of hospitalists overseeing care of admitted patients. “Our patient responded well.”

Convalescent plasma therapy involves donated blood from patients who have recovered from COVID-19. Their blood may contain antibodies to the virus. Specifically, it is believed the antibodies help suppress the virus and modify the body’s inflammatory response in very ill patients.

Convalescent plasma therapy was given an emergency use authorization on Aug.23 by the Food & Drug Administration for use in hospitalized patients diagnosed with Covid-19. The plasma therapy was administered via IV transfusion in the hospital’s intensive care unit.

Convalescent plasma is available under the FDA’s emergency use authorization for single patient use and is distributed through blood banks. According to Heather Davis, manager of laboratory services at Fitzgibbon, the plasma originated in New York and was ordered from the Community Blood Center in Kansas City. Once thawed, the plasma is viable for transfusion for only a few hours.

According to a Sept. 22 announcement about expanded clinical trials for convalescent plasma therapy from the National Institutes of Health, “Preliminary observational studies indicate that convalescent plasma may improve outcomes among severely ill hospitalized patients with COVID-19.”

In addition to convalescent plasma, other therapies which have been administered to COVID-19 patients at Fitzgibbon Hospital include Dexamethasone, which is a steroid, and Remdesivir, an anti-viral agent. Remdesivir was first given an emergency use authorization by the FDA in May. The EUA was later expanded and its scope of use broadened.