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“In the treatment, known as convalescent plasma, the patient is transfused with the donor’s plasma with the goal of using the donor’s antibodies to help clear the virus more rapidly and help decrease the need for ICU beds and ventilators,” New York Blood Center said in a statement to Fox News.
The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) approved the treatment on March 24.
New York is the pandemic’s U.S. epicenter, with at least 113,806 confirmed cases as of Saturday afternoon. At least 3,565 people statewide have died. As of Saturday morning, about 15,000 coronavirus patients were hospitalized.
“Our region was hit early by this pandemic and has sadly suffered from the highest number of infections in the nation. That means we now have the largest pool of recovered patients who can become donors and help those who are severely ill,” said Dr. Christopher D. Hillyer, M.D., CEO of New York Blood Center.
“New York Blood Center is uniquely positioned to collect and maintain a robust public bank of convalescent plasma that can serve hospitals in our immediate area and throughout the country. We are asking all eligible donors to come forward so we can treat as many patients as possible.”
Donors must have tested positive for COVID-19 and be symptom-free for 14 days, according to the organization, which describes itself as one of the world’s largest independent blood centers. “One donation can be used to treat two to three patients struggling with severe cases of COVID-19,” it said.
New York State recently announced its plan to fight the coronavirus outbreak by using the blood plasma of recovered patients.
Harnessing the blood plasma of recovered patients was also used in the fight against the SARs outbreak, according to a recent article published in the medical journal The Lancet.
“Convalescent plasma or immunoglobulins have been used as a last resort to improve the survival rate of patients with SARS whose condition continued to deteriorate despite treatment with pulsed methylprednisolone,” the article said. “Moreover, several studies showed a shorter hospital stay and lower mortality in patients treated with convalescent plasma than those who were not treated with convalescent plasma.”
The U.S. surpassed 300,000 coronavirus cases on Saturday, including 8,162 deaths.
The Associated Press contributed to this article.
Follow James Rogers on Twitter @jamesjrogers