HOUSTON – Houston Methodist Hospital will be the first academic medical center in the country to transfuse donated plasma from a recovered COVID-19 patient to a critically-ill COVID-19 patient.
"What we did is transfused COVID-19 convalescent plasma to two critically ill patients," said Dr. Eric Salazar, the principal investigator and a physician-scientist at Houston Methodist. "It's plasma that's been collected from donors that previously had COVID-19 and have successfully recovered,"
The idea is that the donated plasma may have lifesaving antibodies made by the immune system, which could help an individual fight off the disease, according to Dr. Jim Musser, the chair of the Pathology and Genomic Medicine at Houston Methodist.
Houston Methodist doctors said transferring the antibody-rich plasma into a COVID-19 patient may allow the power of the antibodies into a possible lifesaving therapy. Convalescent serum therapy is a concept that dates back centuries.
"What we don't know at this point is exactly which patient and which type of patient this is going to help the best, but that's the importance of doing this type of study," Musser said.
The FDA approved the treatment Saturday, classified as an emergency investigational new drug protocol.
Houston Methodist Hospital said the FDA must approve each patient using the donated convalescent serum.
Houston Methodist said physicians began recruiting blood plasma donors on Friday from approximately 250 patients who have tested positive for the COVID-19 virus at Houston Methodist hospitals.