Doctor explains experimental plasma treatment for COVID-19 patients

Experimental treatment ‘readily available right now,’ doctor says

SAN ANTONIO – An experimental COVID-19 treatment that began in China is now being used here in San Antonio after showing positive results in patients overseas.

“Their fevers resolved quicker. Their X-ray findings improved. Overall, they felt better. And in some of these studies, they thought there was a signal towards improved survival,” said Chief of Medicine at Methodist Hospital Texsan, Dr. Bravein Amalakuhan.

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Amalakuhan is at the forefront of the new effort happening locally. It involves taking plasma from former patients.

“They (former patients) need to be 28 days from the time of their first symptoms, then they can donate blood. Then we can reasonably reasonably kind of assume that they would have enough antibodies in their blood to attack the COVID-19 virus,” Amalakuhan said.

Antibody-rich blood plasma can then be given to COVID-19 patients who are very sick.

“The requirements are they need to be admitted to an acute care facility and need to be in respiratory failure,” Amalakuhan said.

One local woman says the treatment is working for her husband. He was taken off a ventilator just days after receiving a plasma transfusion.

Plasma with COVID-19 antibodies is helping man recover, wife says

While the studies are preliminary, with more donors, Amalakuhan says he believes there will be more success stories. Amalakuhan says there is a high need for donors.

If you’d like to be screened to become a donor, visit SouthTexasBlood.org or email COVID19@southtexasblood.org.

COVID-19, the respiratory disease caused by the new virus, stands for coronavirus disease 2019. The disease first appeared in late 2019 in Wuhan, China, but spread around the world in early 2020, causing the World Health Organization to declare a pandemic in March.


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