Saint Joseph Mercy Health treats first hospitalized COVID-19 patient with plasma


Saint Joseph Mercy Health System announced it treated its first hospitalized COVID-19 patient with plasma donated by a person who has recovered from COVID-19.

The patient was treated at St. Joseph Mercy Ann Arbor hospital as part of the Mayo Clinic Coordinated Expanded Access to Convalescent Plasma Program.

Eleven St. Joe’s patients were among the first 200 nationally to be registered for the trial that will include more than 1,000 hospitals across the country. Four member hospitals of the health system, St. Joseph Mercy Ann Arbor, St. Joseph Mercy Oakland, St. Mary Mercy Livonia and Mercy Health Muskegon-Mercy Campus, are participating in the program.

“Early participation in this program is due in part to our robust oncology research program, which gave us the ability to quickly develop our plasma program to respond in the hopes of helping to bring forward a treatment for COVID-19 as soon as possible,” said Dr. Anurag Malani, medical director, Infection Prevention and Control, Saint Joseph Mercy Health System. “Our focus now is to spread the word to those who have had COVID to donate their plasma for use in this program.”

Those who recover from COVID-19 do so, in part, because their blood likely contains antibodies, which are capable of fighting the virus that causes the illness, according to information from St. Joe. In some other diseases caused by viruses, giving people blood plasma from those who have recovered from the virus, leads to more rapid improvement of the disease.

To be eligible to receive this treatment, patients must be hospitalized and have severe or life-threatening COVID-19 or be at risk of developing the disease. All patients, or their legally authorized representative, must consent to the program.

An expanded access program is the mechanism by which access to certain investigational new drugs/treatments is made available outside of clinical trials. The focus of an EAP is to provide treatment, whereas a clinical trial is focused on research.

Initial data available from studies using COVID-19 convalescent plasma indicate that a single infusion of plasma showed a benefit for some patients. This program will help researchers collect important information on the patients who received the treatment.

Those who have recovered from COVID-19 and are 28 days symptom-free are encouraged to register online and click on “learn more” in the Convalescent Plasma section.

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