LONGMONT, Colo. (CBS4)– The FDA is asking people who have survived COVID-19 to donate their blood plasma, if they qualify. It is needed to treat those who are now suffering from coronavirus.
One Colorado man may have benefited greatly from the plasma and from a Colorado company. It was an emotional, perhaps overwhelming experience for Ned Steffens of Longmont.
He left Boulder Community Health Foothills Hospital in April after it appeared he might not make it through coronavirus with his life. He suffered a temperature of 104 degrees and lung problems in March before testing positive for the virus.
By a Zoom video link, he told CBS4’s Rick Sallinger, “I was pretty close to not surviving. About as close as you can get.”
The machines that collect the convalescent blood plasma are made in Lakewood at Termumo Blood and Cell Technologies. Production has increased by 30% to meet the demand. They are in use in some 134 countries.
Dr. Kasia Hein-Peters who is a vice president of global medicine at Terumo said, “We can conclude that convalescent plasma is a safe treatment, it is still considered an investigational treatment and not yet approved by the FDA.”
The plasma is donated by people who have survived COVID-19 and develop antibodies which assist immunity. It is then given to patients like Ned Steffens who spent 16 days on a ventilator.
Stephanie Steffens, Ned’s wife, said Ned’s doctor was consulted.
“I wasn’t sure because I hadn’t heard of it. So I asked him what he would do in my situation and he said in a heartbeat he would say yes, he would want that for his family member, so I approved it.”
Ned feels the plasma helped and shortened his time in intensive care, “To see my wife waiting there for me was very, very amazing. It still hits me.”
Ned is now celebrating his 65th birthday. A day he and his wife might not have been able to see due to the coronavirus.