MultiCare Health System has announced another treatment option for hospitalized COVID-19 patients being treated at one of their Puget Sound hospitals, including MultiCare Auburn Medical Center.
The Expanded Access Program for Convalescent Plasma, led by the Mayo Clinic, is for COVID-19 patients who have or are at risk of severe or life-threatening disease. Patients who choose this treatment get a transfusion of plasma donated by people who have recovered from COVID-19, or “convalescents,” and have since tested negative. The donor plasma contains antibodies that can attack the virus, and early studies have shown that it may help patients recover faster.
The first three MultiCare patients to get donor plasma were treated April 18.
“We are treating those who are faring the worst first,” says Scott Meehan Jr., MD, the program’s primary investigator for MultiCare’s Puget Sound region hospitals. “So far, all MultiCare patients who have received this treatment have had advanced illness and been on a ventilator. One patient who received his first treatment on Saturday has been on a ventilator for 20 days.”
MultiCare’s Institute for Research & Innovation is also treating some COVID-19 patients through its clinical trial of the antiviral drug Remdesivir. That trial should yield conclusive results by the end of this month or early May, MultiCare has said.
Dr. Meehan, a pulmonary disease specialist, said the plasma option is promising.
“One of the ways that the body can fight viruses is by developing antibodies that can destroy the invading microorganism,” he says. “These antibodies are present in the blood, specifically in the plasma of the blood. This has worked in previous outbreaks of respiratory diseases like influenza.”
Providers need more plasma to offer this treatment to more patients. MultiCare encourages eligible people who have recovered from COVID-19 to donate plasma at Cascade Regional Blood Services or Vitalant. Donations to Cascade Regional Blood Services will be sent to MultiCare’s Puget Sound region hospitals, while donations to Vitalant will be directed to MultiCare’s patients in the Inland Northwest.
“We have 13 patients waiting for plasma, but they are very sick,” says Jeannie Nielson, the Program Manager for Patient Blood Management at MultiCare, who helped organize the health system’s involvement in the expanded access program. “The study is also open to patients with severe — as opposed to life-threatening — disease.”
Each plasma donation is divided to treat two to four patients. Right now, MultiCare is looking for donors of all blood types, including more rare blood types, AB and B.
According to Cascade Regional Blood Services, eligible donors must:
- Have had their COVID-19 diagnosis confirmed by a laboratory test.
- Provide documentation of their testing, either a physician note or a lab report.
- Be fully recovered and symptom-free at least 28 days before they donate.
- Meet all other blood donor requirements.
“We know the generosity of our communities runs deep. We are asking people who have suffered through this disease to help others,” says Bill Robertson, President, and CEO of MultiCare. “We are hopeful that with enough donations of this plasma, we will be able to save the lives of people who continue to battle against this devastating virus.”
To learn more about the federally funded convalescent plasma trial being led by Mayo Clinic, visit uscovidplasma.org. More information on MultiCare and COVID-19 resources can be found on MultiCare’s website.
The above is a press release from MultiCare Health Systems. The Auburn Examiner has not independently verified its contents and encourages our readers to personally verify any information they find may be overly biased or questionable. The publication of this press release does not indicate an endorsement of its contents.