INDIANAPOLIS — Last week, Versiti Indiana distributed around five times more plasma to Indiana hospitals as they had in previous weeks. The more than 300 units was used to treat patients hospitalized with the virus.
Now, Versiti is running low in stock, just as more patients are hospitalized that could benefit from a plasma antibody treatment.
“When we transfuse this plasma from a recovered individual to someone who is in the hospital clinically ill, it’s called passive antibody treatment and these antibodies help fight the infection,” said Dr. Dan Waxman, Senior Medical Director for Versiti Indiana.
Right now anywhere you donate blood, your donation is tested for COVID-19 antibodies.
The American Red Cross is not performing plasma donations locally, however, they are doing antibody testing and sending positive donors over to Versiti if they are willing to donate.
“When people get their results back they can use those results and answer a questionnaire if they had an antibody they would become a candidate for convalescent plasma,” said Sandra Ryden of the American Red Cross Indiana.
John Mead, who regularly donates blood, was shocked to learn that he had the antibodies.
“I was pretty surprised when it came back positive and then I tested positive three more times,” said Mead. He had minimal symptom back in April. He lost his sense of taste and smell but thought it was due to a bad onset of allergies.
Mead is one of many who decided to donate plasma to help people who are still fighting the virus. He donated 12-times, the maximum allowed.
Dr. Waxman says each time a person donates, three to four patients can be treated with that plasma. And the need is increasing just as the stock at Versiti is running low.
“This morning, in our freezer we had just over 100 units of plasma in our freezer. The way these orders go if we don’t get more plasma in our freezer, those 100 units can be used within a couple days,” said Waxman.
As more physicians are using the convalescent plasma treatment, and more people are getting hospitalized with COVID-19, Dr. Waxman is concerned that soon they will not be able to provide the life saving treatment to those who need it.
“It’s something we can only get from someone who has had the infection. We can’t make this in a laboratory, we can’t get it in from a pharmaceutical company,” said Dr. Waxman.
To learn more about donating plasma or schedule an appointment visit https://www.versiti.org/covid19plasma