SAN ANTONIO – The only thing good to say about San Antonio's spike in Covid-19 cases is that there will be potentially many more people who can donate their antibodies to those who are newly sick.
It’s an irony that is not lost on University Hospital’s study team, which is part of a nationwide research project with Mayo Clinic into the benefits of coronavirus convalescent plasma.
Although it’s not completed, the study is proving that plasma with coronavirus antibodies does help patients recover.
Dr. Rahaf Alkahateb, a University Hospital transfusion medicine fellow, said the surge of new cases is putting their work front and center.
“As of today, over 118,000 patients received convalescent plasma all over the state in our hospitals so far,” she said.
In just the last two weeks, 50 of those patients were at University Hospital, a part of the spike San Antonio is now seeing of Covid-19. She said It’s working so well on the sick that instead of reserving the antibody plasma for ICU patients, the incoming patients with less severe symptoms are now being recommended.
“It was not the first treatment (for) our hospital, but now in the last week, it started to be the first treatment. So now we start to get calls for plasma as soon as the patient gets admitted to the hospital,” she said.
With so many new cases, and new recoveries, there is a strong effort to gather up recent positive cases to be screened for the antibodies. The stress on hospital staff during this surge is taking a toll and it’s hoped that adding to the plasma supply will allow more patients to cycle in and out faster.
“They do well. Most of them get discharged to their home because they recovered from Covid-19, and the mortality rates, the death rate, that we have so far is very, very low,” said Dr. Alkahateb.
The South Texas Blood and Tissue Center is the clearing house for all plasma donations in the area.
If you have recovered from Covid-19, you are strongly encouraged to contact COVID19@SouthTexasBlood.org, to find out if you qualify.