Doctors studying potentially life-saving COVID-19 treatment at Memorial Health


SAVANNAH, Ga. (WSAV) – Results of a study at Memorial Health could keep hospitalized coronavirus patients alive. But researchers need the community’s help to continue their work.

Dr. Stephen Thacker, Memorial Health’s associate chief medical director, says they need plasma donors who tested positive for coronavirus and have been in recovery for at least 14 days.

Doctors say of nearly 30 COVID patients at the hospital, seven need a convalescent plasma transfusion. Plasma contains a series of antibodies, which can be helpful to patients with severe cases of the infection.

“Anytime you become infected with something, you make an antibody and the hope is that that antibody protects you in some way,” explained Dr. Thacker. “Either how severe that disease is, or it protects you from infection if you see that virus again.”

Memorial Health is one of many hospitals around the country — owned by HCA Healthcare — delving into the effects of plasma therapy. Doctors are confident in its effectiveness and overall safety.

Dr. Thacker says Memorial Health is partnering with the American Red Cross to get the donors they need. But Savannah-area donors are hard to come by.

“For areas like Savannah where thankfully we’ve had some good social isoaltion practices, we’ve not had a temendous amount of disease in our community. The number of donors is small,” said Dr. Thacker.

Dr. Charles Brouker — Memorial Health’s laboratory medical director — says patients eligible for the study have severe cases of COVID-19. Convalescent plasma transfusion is a ‘last option.’

“I think there’s a lot of hope,” said Dr. Brouker. “A lot of early studies have shown effectiveness and patients who have had shortened lengths of stay and have been able to go home sooner and recover faster. A lot of this science if very exciting.”

If you believe you are eligible to donate plasma/blood, contact the COVID-19 plasma line at 1-833-582-1971.

Doctors say your donation could save a life.

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