With nearly 9,000 people testing positive for coronavirus in New Jersey and the death toll rising, a COVID-19 case close to home is putting a spotlight on an experimental but possibly life-saving medical procedure. If successful, it would bring a survivor of the novel coronavirus and a critically ill COVID-19 patient together in a unique way.
Two days ago, the FDA approved the emergency plasma exchange investigational trial. The investigational treatment involves using the blood plasma from a recovered COVID-19 patient in order to treat a COVID-19 patient in critical condition.
While it’s still under investigation, Amy Breslow of Cherry Hill is hoping it will save her husband’s life. Brett Breslow, a 50-year-old Youth Football coach, initially tested negative for the flu, felt better then suddenly got a cough and fever. He was then rushed to Cooper University Hospital and was tested for COVID-19. Last Friday, his test came back positive.
“He told me they had just taken him back to a room to go home and that he loved me,” Amy Breslow said. “And that was the last time I heard from him.”
Two hours later, Brett Breslow was admitted to the ICU.
“He’s in critical condition,” Amy Breslow said. “He’s on a ventilator. He had to start kidney dialysis yesterday.”
Amy Breslow is now hoping for a blood plasma donation from someone who recovered from COVID-19.
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“If you have tested positive for coronavirus and you are now 14 days symptom-free, you can go to a blood donation center,” she said.
Benjamin Ruder, the CEO and founder of B Positive Plasma in Cherry Hill, told NBC10 plasma donations would go to designated labs.
“It’s not like the Red Cross for instance where you donate and that blood goes directly to a patient,” Ruder said. “In the plasma are antibodies and different proteins which are broken down to create medications.”
In the past, medicine by means of an IV helped with virus strains such as H1N1 and SARS. Those who are healed from COVID-19 can send a direct donation to earmark which hospital they’d like their plasma to help.
“This can happen to any one of us,” Amy Breslow said. “I want those centers to be as busy as they can possibly be.”
See below for more information on how you can help:
What is an Investigational New Drug (IND)?
That is a request for authorization from the FDA to administer an investigational therapy to human patients. Such authorization must be obtained prior to administration of any new therapy that is not already FDA-approved. The FDA grants INDs to investigators (i.e. researchers) to administer the therapy as part of research.
What is the therapy that this patient has requested?
This investigational therapy involves taking plasma (the liquid portion of the blood that does not contain blood cells) from people who have already recovered from COVID-19 and administering that plasma to patients who are actively infected. If the convalescent plasma contains antibodies against the virus, in theory it could have an anti-viral effect. You can read more about it here: Therapeutic Plasma Exchange for COVID-19
Where does the plasma come from?
It comes from patients who have donated blood at special blood donation centers. You can donate here: