Swedish advances plasma collection and treatment for COVID-19 patients

April 14, 2020 Swedish Communications

Health care system partners with Bloodworks Northwest to expand collection of convalescent plasma as a novel therapeutic to treat COVID-19 patients.

Swedish Health Services, the largest non-profit health care system in the Puget Sound region, is partnering with Bloodworks Northwest to expand the collection of plasma donations from recovered COVID-19 patients for use as a potential treatment for COVID-19.

Swedish is informing recovered COVID-19 patients about the opportunity to participate in plasma donation and has begun enrolling patients currently sick with COVID-19 in a clinical trial through the national Convalescent Plasma Expanded Access Program. The program, led by The Mayo Clinic, was authorized by the Food & Drug Administration earlier this month for the emergency use of convalescent plasma as a novel therapeutic for patients infected with SARS-CoV-2, the virus that causes COVID-19. Swedish doctors infused the first two patients in the Pacific Northwest with convalescent plasma Monday, April 13.

More than 10,000 people in Washington state have had confirmed cases of COVID-19 during the past few months. Those who have recovered from the disease have developed antibodies that provide immunity. The antibodies in their plasma can be used to develop medical treatments for the disease. This technique is commonly used to battle other infectious diseases, including measles and influenza.

“We are excited to join efforts to study this potential treatment for COVID-19 and to expand plasma collection in the Seattle area,” said Dr. Livia T. Hegerova, director of benign hematology at the Swedish Center for Blood Disorders and Stem Cell Transplantation. “Seattle was one of the first epicenters of the pandemic, and with this plasma collection effort, we are one of the first communities to mount an effort at this scale.”

Hegerova is the lead principal investigator in this research at Swedish and leads a team that includes Dr. Cynthia Maree, infectious disease specialist and chair of the COVID19 Subcommittee of the Pharmacy & Therapeutics Committee at Swedish, and Dr. Kelly Sweerus, pulmonologist and critical care specialist.

Swedish has the largest cohort of patients with confirmed cases of COVID-19 in the region and will be a data collection point for plasma that will be processed at Bloodworks Northwest. This new partnership significantly expands the region’s capacity for collecting plasma donations from recovered COVID-19 patients. Swedish is also leading the effort for the entire Providence St. Joseph Health health care system, which includes 51 hospitals and 1,085 clinics across seven Western states.

A single plasma donation can provide enough plasma to treat three to four patients, and donors can give plasma several times.

Patients who have recovered from COVID-19 and are interested in donating plasma are asked to contact Bloodworks Northwest at COVID19Study@BloodworksNW.org or 206-689-6689.

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