Convalescent plasma therapy is an experimental treatment that some doctors are using for people with severe coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19).
In the search for an effective treatment for COVID-19, an old method of fighting infectious diseases has recently resurfaced: transfusions with convalescent plasma. Plasma is a component of blood.
The blood of people who have recovered from an infection contains antibodies. Antibodies are molecules that have learned to recognize and fight the pathogens, such as viruses, that have caused disease.
Doctors can separate plasma, one of the blood components that contain such antibodies, and administer it to people whose bodies are currently fighting an infectious disease. This can help their immune systems reject the pathogen more efficiently.
Recently, researchers and healthcare professionals have been looking into the possibility of using this method to treat people with COVID-19, the respiratory disease caused by the SARS-CoV-2 virus.
In the United States, a group of researchers and doctors from 57 institutions, including Johns Hopkins University, the Albert Einstein College of Medicine, and the Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai, are investigating and applying convalescent plasma therapy for COVID-19.
Researchers hope that convalescent plasma can be given to people with severe COVID-19 to boost their ability to fight the virus. It also might help keep people who are moderately ill from becoming more ill and experiencing COVID-19 complications.
Some people with COVID-19 become very sick and don't respond to other treatments or drugs. These people often develop acute respiratory distress syndrome (ARDS) a severe lung condition. They often require mechanical assistance, such as a ventilator, to breathe. These people also are in danger of developing organ failure.
It could also help other people who may have a higher risk of serious illness, such as people with chronic medical conditions, for example, heart disease or diabetes, or those who have weakened immune systems. Convalescent plasma could help these people from getting sicker if they get COVID-19.
If you've had COVID-19 and recovered from it, consider donating blood through the American Red Cross or your local donation center.