MUSC Health performs Lowcountry’s first plasma transfusion to treat COVID-19


CHARLESTON, S.C. (WSAV) – Physicians at MUSC Health University Medical Center successfully infused their first COVID-19 patient with convalescent plasma on Saturday. The patient is the first person in the Lowcountry and the second in South Carolina to receive this treatment.

Plasma is the liquid in blood that contains antibodies made by the body’s immune system to attack viruses. MUSC says a recovered COVID-19 patient’s plasma can be transfused into a current patient and can provide some relief and reduce complications.

MUSC says physicians reached out to COVID-19 patients who tested positive, and recovered, and asked them to consider plasma donation. The transfusion happened less than 24 hours after the plasma donation.

MUSC has joined Mayo Clinic’s Expanded Access Program to work to provide plasma for COVID-19 patients. John Wrangle, M.D., assistant professor in the Department of Medicine’s Division of Hematology and Oncology, is leading MUSC’s efforts.

“There’s reason to believe that this may be an effective therapy for COVID-19 patients,” said Wrangle. “We feel that ensuring an opportunity for people to recover from this infection is critical to creating a vast supply or inventory of plasma so that anyone in the state can draw from it when needed.”

MUSC is also partnering with the American Red Cross and the Blood Connection, a statewide blood bank, to collect and process plasma from approved COVID-19-recovered patients for this FDA-authorized treatment.

Patrick J. Cawley, M.D., MUSC Health CEO and vice president for Health Affairs says the plasma transfusion treatment is centuries old, yet still pioneering. He says critically ill patients’ immune systems will be ramped up to better fight the coronavirus.

Anyone interested in donating plasma should check with their healthcare provider, or the person who ordered their COVID-19 test, who will refer them to the Blood Connection or the American Red Cross. Donors must have recovered from COVID-19 and be 28 days free of symptoms.

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