VCU Medical Center offers plasma treatment for COVID-19

Published: Apr. 21, 2020 at 2:44 PM EDT
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VCU Medical Center will be offering convalescent plasma treatment for COVID-19.

Virginia Commonwealth University Medical Center has been approved under the Mayo Clinic’s Expanded Access Program to administer antibody-rich convalescent plasma for the treatment of COVID-19.

There is currently no drug treatment for COVID-19.

The use of convalescent plasma was used during the 1918 flu pandemic, to treat measles in the 1930s, and, recently, to treat Ebola, SARS and H1N1, also known as swine influenza.

The hospital is preparing to administer convalescent plasma to a COVID-19-positive patients for the first time this week.

“If you have had COVID-19 and recovered, your blood likely contains immune components called antibodies that target the COVID-19 virus,” Jeffrey Donowitz, M.D., Infectious Diseases Specialist at Children’s Hospital of Richmond at VCU said. “These antibodies may be able to help treat patients with severe cases of COVID-19.”

Patients are transfused with the donor’s plasma in hopes that it will help the patient’s own immune system attack the virus and help the patient recover faster. The targeted antibodies could help boost the immune system of someone fighting COVID-19 until their body can produce antibodies on its own, according to Donowitz.

VCU Medical Center needs the community’s support to provide the treatment.

“We can’t provide this potentially life-saving treatment to those in need without our community’s help,” Donowitz said. “Donating plasma is a safe and selfless way to give back for the greater good of our community. You could save a life.”

For the time being, it is important that both hospitals and blood banks keep lists of potential donors. VCU Medical Center is asking those who have recovered from COVID-19 to join a confidential COVID-19 registry to donate plasma.


, the hospital may contact registrants for blood donations, but joining the registry does not require you to donate or participate in any program. Registrants can request to be removed at any time.

Donating plasma is similar to the process of donating blood.

The plasma donor must have recovered from and tested negative for COVID-19 or have been asymptomatic for 28 days, and must otherwise be healthy.

The American Red Cross will screen and collect plasma from potential donors.

Donor plasma goes through rigorous testing similar to all blood donations before it is administered to a patient in need.