AURORA, Colo. (CBS4)– Researchers at UCHealth University of Colorado Hospital are looking at the effectiveness of convalescent plasma in keeping high-risk COVID-19 patients out of the hospital. They are trying to see if giving a patient, who shows up in the emergency department, the antibody-rich plasma will keep that person from being admitted.

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Sharon Holmes is a study participant.

“I don’t think I’ve ever felt that bad,” Sharon told CBS4 Health Specialist Kathy Walsh.

In late October, 59-year-old Sharon had COVID.

“My fingers were starting turning purple,” she said. “And I was just exhausted. I couldn’t catch my breath. I felt like I was just suffocating.”

Sharon is a switchboard operator who answers phones for UCHealth. She also does the emergency paging. Four days into her case of COVID, Sharon took herself to the emergency room.

“They were going to send me home which, really, I was so scared,” she said.

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Before she left, Sharon was offered another option, the chance to take part in a clinical trial of COVID-19 convalescent plasma in outpatients (C3PO).

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“We’re scrambling to find these effective treatments as fast as possible,” said Dr. Adit Ginde, Emergency Medicine physician at UCHealth.

He is leading the study of the antibody-rich plasma donated by COVID survivors. Participants are emergency room COVID patients who have early symptoms, are high risk but stable enough to go home. They get either the plasma or a placebo.

“The goal of convalescent plasma is actually to eliminate the virus as quick as possible from the body,” said Ginde.

Sharon is a believer.

“I actually felt so much better,” she said.

She says she turned the corner 32 hours after the infusion. She was later told she got the plasma.

(credit: CBS)

“I think it is a lifesaver,” said Sharon.

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Dr. Ginde said 500 patients have been enrolled in the study nationally. He said researchers hope to determine the effectiveness of convalescent plasma for COVID outpatients in the next few months.