Blood bank says convalescent plasma treatment has so far been 'promising'

Posted at 6:41 AM, Jun 03, 2020
and last updated 2020-06-03 11:00:19-04

BAKERSFIELD, Calif. — Convalescent plasma is being used to treat COVID-19 patients in Kern County. Officials at Houchin Blood Bank say, so far, the results are promising.

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration says, although promising, convalescent plasma has not yet been shown to be a safe and effective treatment for COVID-19. Still, hospitals around the world are using it to treat patients who need the most care.

“People have been coming off the ventilators if they get a dose of this plasma, they are being released from the hospital, I have heard very good results," said Josie Pippert, Director of Quality Assurance at Houchin.

Pippert says the plasma has been a success so far. It’s unclear how many patients have been helped by it, but Pippert says 53 doses have been sent out to hospitals. All of the plasma came from local donors, but finding donors is a tall task due to HIPAA laws, she says.

“We can’t find them or call them up because we don’t know who you are out there," she said.

Convalescent plasma is donated from people who have previously had COVID-19 and recovered from it. The plasma is thought to work because a recovered patient’s plasma has the antibodies necessary to beat the virus. Kern Public Health says over 1,500 people in the county have recovered, but only 24 people have donated at Houchin.

“The plasma donation takes about 45 minutes on a machine," Pippert said.

Pippert says one donation can be used to help up to five people. And so far, all of Houchin's donations have been used on local patients. If you are interested in donating convalescent plasma, Houchin asks you to call their COVID-19 hotline at 616-2575.