Some COVID-19 survivors donating plasma to help others beat virus

Lynne Adkins
April 21, 2020 - 1:38 pm

PHILADELPHIA (KYW Newsradio) — People who have tested positive for COVID-19 and have recovered from the illness are rolling up their sleeves to help those still fighting. 

Chuck Deich is one of those former coronavirus patients. Deich has been free of symptoms for two weeks. He works in information technology at Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia and says it is an honor to give his plasma to help people battling COVID-19. 

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Plasma is the liquid component of blood. When someone is infected with  COVID-19, or any viral illness, the body builds an immune response with antibodies unique to that virus. The process can take as long as 14 days. 

When patients get plasma donated by a survivor, they acquire those protective antibodies needed to fight the virus, shortening the time it takes to develop them on their own.

Now Deich is waiting to donate.

“You fill out all your information. You submit. And then the Red Cross will reach out to you directly," he said. "They tell you where to go, it’s not a standard donation."

It's anything but standard, according to Dr. David Teachey, an attending hematology and oncology physician at CHOP. He says plasma donation to fight a virus is still experimental.

"They’ve been using convalescent plasma for different viruses since the 1800s. For some infections and viruses it makes people better; for other infections snd viruses it has been shown to make people worse."

The FDA must give approval for the transfusion, and the blood type of the donor and recipient must match. So far, one patient at CHOP has received the treatment.