What is Convalescent Plasma? And why do doctors need it?

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SALT LAKE CITY (ABC4 News) – There is a plea for those who survived COVID-19 to donate plasma. The F-D-A is allowing doctors to use the antibodies in plasma to save those who are suffering the most from the virus.

For Cynthia Lemus, it’s been roughly five months since caught COVID-19. She was one of Intermountain’s first patients to receive the convalescent plasma under a trial study.

“Health-wise I’m doing great and happy to be alive,” she said in a press conference Monday. “I think everybody should honestly look into it.”

She almost didn’t make it because of complications with the virus according to her husband Moises.

At the time doctors decided Cynthia was a good candidate to join more than 500 others to us plasma with COVID-19 antibodies or Convalescent Plasma as a treatment.

“While the whole ordeal was going on receiving the plasma was really for us just a light. It was something that gave us a lot of hope just because a lot of the treatments that she was already getting wasn’t working,” he said.

Cynthia’s doctors say she was a recipient of High Tighter plasma or plasma with the highest amount of COVID-19 antibodies, and it gave her the best chance to survive.

Data from the Mayo Clinic and Intermountain Healthcare show convalescent plasma has a good safety profile but not all patients react the same to treatment. Doctors say more research is needed.

“To understand in which patients and in which donors convalescent plasma is beneficial,” said Intermountain Healthcare’s Dr. Brandon Webb.

Dr. Daanish Hoda with Intermountain Healthcare adds, “Convalescent plasma is in a nationwide short supply.”

Dr. Hoda recommends using organizations like the Red Cross to donate COVID-19 plasma.

“It is really important to individuals who have recovered and who meet all the other standard donor criteria consider coming in and scheduling an appointment,” Dr. Walter E. Kelley, an osteopathic medicine for Red Cross Utah tells us. “People who have recovered from the virus have been through something difficult and they have the ability to help others.”

Dr. Kelley says the Red Cross is set up to take the COVID-19 plasma donations in Murray, Ogden, and Orem.

“If you can save a life by donating for an hour or two hours, its something simple and easy to do to take care of the rest of humanity,” said Cynthia Lemus.

Her husband Moises says the donation takes about an hour.

“When I went up to the Red Cross to donate plasma, I felt a sense of pride, a sense of excitement because I was possibly saving somebody else life, somebody else’s family who was in the same position I was,” he said.

Have questions about coronavirus?

Because of the convalescent plasma shortage, the Red Cross says the best way to find out if you qualify to donate COVID-19 antibodies head to https://www.redcrossblood.org.

Jason Nguyen
Jason Nguyen is an award-winning reporter and photojournalist who is back with ABC4 News as the lead reporter on Good Morning Utah, bringing over a decade of news experience to the team.

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