MILWAUKEE, April 2, 2020 /PRNewswire/ -- As coronavirus cases continue to rise across the country and the world, Versiti, Inc., a national leader in blood health innovation, will begin collecting plasma from recovered COVID-19 patients to help treat others diagnosed with the virus.
This blood-related treatment – approved by the FDA as an Emergency Investigational New Drug (EIND) – could offer hope to the hundreds of patients who continue to be diagnosed. This treatment would be used by hospitals for the most severely affected patients.
Versiti blood centers, among the first in the U.S. to begin collecting convalescent plasma, is working with its partner hospitals to identify recovered patients. As per the guidelines, hospitals must request FDA approval and work within the EIND guidelines, or other approved IND, in order to treat coronavirus patients with plasma. Donors would be referred to Versiti through hospitals, or the recovered patients' physicians.
"The potential donors must first be proven to have had a COVID-19 diagnosis through a positive lab test result, and must then have a negative test result 14 days after recovering from symptoms," said Versiti Senior Medical Director Dan A. Waxman, M.D. "It's a very collaborative effort with our hospital partners who will be working to identify and verify the donors."
Versiti hopes to implement the coronavirus plasma collection program in early April. The donated plasma will be provided directly to the hospitals with whom Versiti is partnering.
"Many of our hospital partners have already requested the donations," said Dr. Waxman. "They are anxious to begin the program."
The plasma treatment would transfer the antibodies that the recovered patient created, into critically ill patients currently receiving care. Because of the investigational nature of this treatment, it is difficult to know just how many plasma infusions a COVID-19 patient may require, according to Dr. Waxman.
The plasma donations, which take 30-40 minutes, will be collected at Versiti donor centers in Illinois, Indiana, Michigan, Ohio and Wisconsin.
The donation process is the same as with other plasma donations, and will be performed using an apheresis machine, which separates the blood components.
Though blood group AB is the universal plasma donor, any blood type donor who has recovered from the virus is eligible to donate as part of the program.
Versiti advances coronavirus research
Versiti is working with Froedtert Hospital and the Medical College of Wisconsin (MCW), under the direction of Gilbert White, M.D., Versiti EVP for research and chief science officer and professor at MCW, who is serving as the primary investigator, and Mary Beth Graham, M.D.,FIDSA, FACP, Medical Director, Infection Prevention & Control Froedtert Hospital Associate Chief, Division of Infectious Disease, Medical College of Wisconsin, to support a research study related to plasma infusion.
"This is a very important joint effort that we are undertaking which will benefit every hospital system in the state of Wisconsin and beyond," said Dr. White. "This research will not only help patients now, but inform us for future interventions."
The research project involves a clinical trial component with recovered coronavirus patients, who will be referred by hospitals.
Versiti, a national leader in blood health innovation, was formed with the mission to improve the health of patients and enable the success of our health care partners nationally. We provide innovative, value added solutions in the fields of transfusion medicine, transplantation, and blood-related diseases to meet the needs of each of our customers. The collective efforts across Versiti result in improved patient outcomes, expanded access to care and cost efficiencies for health care systems nationwide. For more information, visit versiti.org.