Potential 'game changer' therapy using blood plasma of recovered COVID-19 patients in works at University of Chicago Medicine

CHICAGO (WLS) -- The need for blood has rarely been greater, and now the call is out for the plasma of recovered COVID-19 patients,to isolate antibodies it presumably contains to the disease, and save lives as in China.

University of Chicago Medicine claims it has the systems and expertise to test the presumption on people with advanced COVID-19.

"They have about 15 patients who they gave plasma to and they recovered and they were able to go home so that is encouraging but certainly there needs to be longer-term follow up," said Dr. Lucia Madariagia, a Thoracic and Lung Transplant Surgeon.

"They get a single transfusion of the plasma and then we measure what happens," Madariagia said. "We are asking people who have a confirmed positive test of COVID-19 who are 28 days out from their symptoms being resolved to come forward."

Similar studies are happening around the world, but there is concern about the accuracy of the antibody test in the first place. Regardless, some scientists are saying fortune favors the bold.

"I think it is a good betit can be protective," said Dr. Patrick Wilson, PhD., an immunologist at Chicago Medicine. "At this point it is believed the passive immunity of recovered patients does not last long, half is perhaps lost in just a few weeks."

"The amount of antibody that is working against the virus will have peaked at 28 days," Wilson said."That would be the time with this and it has the greatest effect."

The Chicago Medical Society has been calling for haste on this question.

"This therapy could be a game changer therefore we need to scale it up rapidly," said Dr. Russ Petrak, an Infectious Disease specialist and co-chair of the CMS COVID-19 task force.

"There was never a time when we need to come together more as a medical unit to provide this therapy," Petrak said.

Recovered COVID-19 patient Caitlin Darcy is ready to go, the 32-year old applied to the program Monday.

RELATED: Chicago coronavirus survivor ready to donate antibody-rich plasma, but work remains experimental

Convalescent plasma therapy has been around for more than a century, first used to treat measles, then more recently influenza, SARS and MerS.

The university hopes to start transfusions by the end of the week.

People who think that they may be able to donate plasma are encouraged to call (877) CMS-DOCS or 1-877-267-3627.
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