Thursday, May 30, 2024

Willis-Knighton Conducts a Clinical Trial for COVID-19 Therapy, Donors Wanted

by BIZ Magazine

Willis-Knighton Health System has begun a clinical trial of the use of convalescent plasma therapy as an experimental treatment of COVID-19.

Mayo Clinic is the lead institution for this Food and Drug Administration-approved expanded access study, which allows  institutions like Willis-Knighton to investigate convalescent plasma therapy for patients with cases of moderate to severe COVID-19.

Patients who recover from COVID-19 infection have large amounts of antibody against the virus in their blood. Plasma rich in antibodies can be removed from a person who has recovered by a simple procedure in a blood bank and given to a patient ill with COVID-19.  In a few small studies, it appears that this convalescent serum has had positive effects on the course of infection. Additional research is needed to determine overall effectiveness. 

This type of therapy has been used as far back as the late 1800s and is hoped to be a game-changer and accelerate the recovery of COVID-19 patients.

LifeShare Blood Center has collaborated with Willis-Knighton to provide convalescent plasma therapy to COVID-19 patients, says Benjamin Prijatel, senior director of blood operations at LifeShare. Recovered patients donate blood in which the red cells are separated from the plasma. The plasma is then transfused into a person sick with the virus to give a massive boost to their immune system to help fight this virus. 

“We need donors,” says Joseph Bocchini, MD, an infectious disease specialist at Willis-Knighton who initiated the project. “We will be enrolling patients for 12 months. We will not know how long it will take before enough patients have been enrolled to determine if the treatment is effective.

Blood and plasma are commonly used to treat many conditions and in general are very safe products prepared in a blood bank. Donors are screened with the same protocols as blood donors.

Carrie Kay, clinical research manager for Willis-Knighton, is working on the project with Dr. Bocchini. “The study will evaluate whether treatment is successful in decreasing the length of stay in an acute care facility, decreasing the days spent in ICU, decreasing the days on a ventilator and increasing survival until discharge,” she explained. 
Recovered patients are eligible to donate two weeks after the onset of symptoms if they have a negative follow-up virus test or 28 or more days have passed since the start of their infection. Recovered patients are urged to contact their primary care doctors, Carrie Kay at (318) 212-8130 or LifeShare if they are willing to serve as a donor.

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