By Jamie Leary

DENVER (CBS4) – Colorado hospitals are joining a national study to determine if plasma from recovered coronavirus patients, can help the most critical. The problem? They need donors.

Denver HealthONE hospitals announced it joined the Mayo Clinic’s Convalescent Plasma Study Tuesday, but in terms of collecting the data, they’ve only just begun.

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“The main problem being we had to wait for donors to become available. Because if you think about it, a donor has to have the infection, clear their infection and then wait for at least two weeks, likely four weeks before it’s safe for them to donate blood,” said Dr. John Hammer, Infectious Disease Specialist and Chairman of Medicine at Rose Medical Center.

Hammer says convalescent plasma transfusions have worked in other types of coronaviruses. He has been treating COVID-19 patients with convalescent plasma for several weeks, since it was approved by the FDA.

(credit: CBS)

“By convalescent, that means that it comes from patients who are convalescing from their illness in other words they have been infected with COVID,” he continued. “Essentially we take the blood of people who have been infected, we spin it down, and we separate out the antibody portion and we can give that portion to matched donors who are sick currently with COVID infection.”

Currently he says it can only be given to patients who have significant hypoxia, meaning that their lungs are getting worse. Since there is so little data currently available, it’s hard to tell if he has seen conditions improve as a direct result of the transfusion.

“I haven’t seen any negative reactions, I’ll say that, but it’s really hard to tell without studies- that a person got better because you have them something. So you have to either have a control arm, where you didn’t give them something and people are randomized to that, or you have to have enough volume and you can compare it to people that didn’t get it.”

Hammer says even that is difficult and not to mention, they don’t have the volume.

(credit: CBS)

In a news release Tuesday, HealthOne said in part:

“…additional clinical data – and more plasma donations – are needed to determine efficacy in treating COVID-19. The success of the study hinges on the continued collection of plasma from recovered COVID-19 patients. People who tested positive for COVID-19 and have since tested negative can help by donating plasma through the American Red Cross or another local donation center.”

RELATED: Coronavirus Patient Released From ICU After 34 Days, Convalescent Plasma Treatment

To find out more about the donation process, eligibility and locations to donate in Denver, you can call the HealthONE dedicated COVID-19 Plasma Phone Line at (833) 582-1971.

Jamie Leary

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