Paying it Forward: Sutter Teams with Vitalant to Offer COVID-19 Survivor-Donated Blood Plasma to Patients
With experts predicting that a vaccine for COVID-19 is at
least a year away, Sutter and Vitalant are collaborating to offer investigational
treatment with convalescent plasma—blood plasma collected from people who have recovered
from COVID-19—to hospitalized patients with severe cases of the disease under requirements
recently outlined by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA).
Convalescent plasma, rich in protective antibodies, is the liquid component of blood. Not-for-profit Sutter Health is the first non-academic hospital system in California to participate in this research, launching expanded access program testing the use of convalescent plasma at its affiliates California Pacific Medical Center (CPMC), Sutter Medical Center Sacramento and Alta Bates Summit Medical Center, with other Sutter sites beginning the clinical trial in the coming weeks.
“By collaborating with community partners like Vitalant, we’re bringing an opportunity for the latest cutting-edge research to our patients,” says Sean Townsend, M.D., an intensive care medicine specialist in CPMC’s Division of Pulmonary and Critical Care. “Convalescent plasma is a potentially promising treatment for COVID-19 that we will test in clinical trials across the Sutter integrated network of care. We hope to build a supply of convalescent plasma that will add to our arsenal of emerging treatments to fight the virus.”
Vitalant physician colleague, Chris Gresens, M.D., adds, “We hope this therapy will serve as a type of ‘stop-gap vaccine substitute’ by providing severely affected patients just enough of an ‘immune boost’ to help them to recover more fully and quickly.”
The plasma donor must test negative for COVID-19 and be otherwise healthy. Convalescent plasma from one donor may be used to treat as many as four hospitalized patients with the illness who consent to participate in a clinical trial of the treatment.
Convalescent plasma has been studied for the treatment of numerous illnesses, most recently for infectious diseases such as Ebola, SARS, MERS and H1N1.
How you can help:
- Under the new U.S. FDA guidelines, eligible blood donors who have had a documented diagnosis of COVID-19, and remain asymptomatic for at least 14 days post-recovery, may donate their plasma.
- Sutter patients and health care workers who previously tested positive for COVID-19 can book an appointment for free donor screening at Sutter walk-in clinics: make a video appointment through My Health Online or call Sutter’s COVID-19 Advice Line (866) 961-2889 for more information.
- Vitalant will only accept donors who meet all FDA-required general donor eligibility criteria in addition to the COVID-19 convalescent plasma qualifications.
- Non-Sutter affiliated potential donors may apply to donate plasma at a Vitalant site by completing the form at Vitalant.org/covidfree. Donors cannot walk in for this procedure; they will be contacted by Vitalant to schedule an appointment.