Houston-area hospitals issue urgent call for plasma from people who have recovered from coronavirus

Houston hospitals use plasma therapy as potential treatment for coronavirus

HOUSTON – Houston-area hospitals are issuing urgent calls for plasma donations from people who have recovered from coronavirus as doctors use it to treat current patients.

"All of us in the Houston scientific community are banding together in the fight against coronavirus,” said Dr. Henry Wang, Professor and Executive Vice-Chair of Research of the Department of Emergency Medicine at UTHealth.

Doctors at UT Health are now taking part in convalescent plasma therapy for coronavirus patients. They are joining Houston Methodist and Baylor College of Medicine on this mission.

“We are all desperately reaching for therapies that might actually work against this terrible disease,” said Dr. Wang.

Urgent need for volunteers

With plasma therapy, doctors transfer the antibodies that fight COVID-19 from those who have recovered, to patients who are seriously ill with the virus. The urgent need now is for more volunteers.

“I’m going to beg everyone in the community, take this call for action very seriously,” said Dr. Wang.

One of the major goals of the program is to be a community resource, and there has been success in this area.

Baylor St. Luke’s Medical Center has transfused nine patients and has sent plasma to a patient in Houston and one in Beaumont.

“We need to really pool our resources together to create enough plasma for those who are acutely ill of the condition and those we expect to get ill over the next several weeks in the Houston area,” said Dr. Wang.

From Houston and around the United States, all of the information collected is also being sent to researchers at the Mayo Clinic.

"Not only facilitate getting the treatment to patients but also collect key data so we can actually try to understand the analytics in real-time,” Dr. Michael Joyner, Mayo Clinic.

Who can donate plasma?

The Gulf Coast Regional Blood Center is working with hospitals in the Houston area to screen potential donors.

In order to donate convalescent plasma, donors:

1. Must have had a positive COVID-19 diagnosis documented by a laboratory test.

2. Must have fully recovered from COVID-19 with no symptoms for at least 28 days before the donations. Or, recovered with no symptoms for 14 days and a second test with negative results.

3. Must meet all existing donor eligibility requirements.

If you or someone you know have proof of the virus, you can contact the blood center. If donors qualify, they can call Monday to Friday from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. to get on the waitlist. The number is 713-791-6373. You have first to be approved as an acceptable donor, before going to the blood bank. For more information on how you can donate, go to giveblood.org.