Lee Health, NCH join study to see if plasma helps COVID-19 recovery

Published: April 16, 2020 9:45 PM EDT
Updated: April 16, 2020 11:32 PM EDT

For a plasma research study to work, researchers need people who recovered from COVID-19 need to donate plasma, with the hope it will help others survive. We spoke to a doctor in Southwest Florida who explained how the study aims to treat those who have contracted the coronavirus.

Lee Health and NCH Healthcare System have joined a new study that looks to confirm if plasma donation from those already recovered from the coronavirus can be used as a viable treatment for those still in need of help to recover.

“With a research study, we always have the hope that we are going to find something to help,” said Dr. Doug Brust with Lee Health.

And that’s why Lee Health says it joined Mayo Clinic’s COVID-19 convalescent plasma study.

“The hypothesis is for COVID-19, which is caused by [SARS-CoV-2] the name of it and someone that recovers,” Brust said. “And they have antibodies we will be able to transfer those to someone that is sick.”

The research study looks to prove if someone who has already had the virus can donate his or her antibodies formed to help someone else in their hope to recover from the coronavirus.

Doctors say this type of treatment has been done before and worked well on other viruses.

“During H1N1 (Swine flu) people that were hospitalized, the mortality rate went down from 54 to 20,” Brust said.

It is not promised it will work on this virus, but some people who have survived say it works.

James Crocker donated some of his plasma to Michael Rachell.

“Don’t be ashamed by it,” Crocker said. “Feel empowered by it, and you can save a life.”

Michael’s wife, Stacie, was ready for him to try this as a form of treatment after he was diagnosed with the coronavirus.

“I said, baby you’ve been asleep for a week, and it’s time to get up now,” Stacie said. “It’s Easter morning and god has performed a miracle … I can’t make this up; he had tears rolling down his cheeks.”

Beginning Monday, patients who had COVID-19 may enroll to see if they are eligible to donate plasma for the research study.

And Crocker wants everyone to try and help someone too.

“It’s very powerful, and you have the ability to be and make the difference between life and death or a person or a family,” Crocker said.