WASHINGTON — MedStar Georgetown University Hospital, the first hospital in the Washington, D.C. Metropolitan Area to offer convalescent plasma therapy, has discharged its first patient who received the investigational treatment.
While there is no proven treatment for this virus, researchers are optimistic that the antibodies in convalescent plasma, a component of blood, collected from individuals who have recovered from COVID-19, can lead to more positive outcomes.
Anecdotal evidence suggests that a patient’s ability to recover is due, in part, to the existence of antibodies in blood that are capable of fighting viruses that cause illness. While use of convalescent plasma for COVID-19 was just recently approved by the FDA for clinical trials and expanded clinical use, the use of convalescent plasma has been successful in the past for treating diseases like hepatitis B, influenza and Ebola.
Patrick Bright, the first patient to receive convalescent plasma at MedStar Georgetown was discharged on May 2 after spending 3 weeks in the hospital. Before receiving the convalescent plasma, Bright was in the ICU where doctors told him and his family that they were not optimistic about his recovery from acute COVID-19 infection.
Despite the bleak prognosis, Bright was determined to fight. He recalls lying in his hospital bed, holding his fist up like a boxer and telling his family, who were on a video call, “I’m a fighter. I’m not going anywhere.” Today he credits his recovery to getting convalescent plasma. “I was on a ventilator for five days and I started turning around after getting the convalescent plasma. My doctors told me the plasma therapy was a crucial part of my recovery.”
MedStar Georgetown has treated more than 30 COVID-19 patients with convalescent plasma and is encouraging more people to donate. Anyone who has recovered from COVID-19 and has been symptom free for 14 days can be considered to donate plasma and help save the lives of severely ill patients like Patrick Bright.
Bright and his wife, who also had COVID-19, are eager to donate their plasma in the future to help other people recover.
Interested donors who meet the outlined criteria should email their name and phone number to [email protected] for pre-screening and directions on where to donate. Your single plasma donation may be used to treat up to three other COVID-19 infected patients who need your help.