Spectrum Health Lakeland uses plasma therapy to treat COVID-19 patients

ST. JOSEPH — Spectrum Health Lakeland, in collaboration with Versiti Blood Centers, has begun treating COVID-19 patients with blood plasma from patients who have recovered from the disease, providing an additional treatment option to the most severely affected COVID-19 patients.

Historically, hospitals have used the treatment, known as “convalescent plasma therapy,” when a new disease spreads rapidly and no other treatments or vaccines are available. Spectrum Health Lakeland has treated one patient with the therapy as of Monday.

“Locally we have a great need for donors. Each one could potentially save two to six lives if we have successful matching,” said infectious disease specialist, Mark Harrison, MD, Spectrum Health Lakeland.

“Spectrum Health Lakeland is excited to introduce convalescent plasma therapy to our patients and we are asking for anyone who has recovered from COVID-19 to please reach out to see if they qualify to donate.”

To be considered as donors, patients who have had test-confirmed COVID-19 must be symptom free for at least 14 days. They can then be scheduled for a second nasal swab test to verify that they are free of the COVID-19 virus. If patients have been symptom free for greater than 27 days, no nasal swab is needed. Then, a donation of blood plasma from this patient can be used to treat other patients with COVID-19.

Patients who are interested in donating plasma and had a positive COVID-19 test from Spectrum Health Lakeland do not need to take any action. They will be contacted by the health system to discuss potential eligibility. Interested patients who had a positive COVID-19 test from a health system other than Spectrum Health Lakeland should call (269) 983-8261 or email Kelly Slavens at kslavens@lakelandhealth.org. Patients who have not had a formal COVID-19 positive test are not eligible to donate plasma at this time, but researchers are working to potentially achieve this.

“The possibilities presented by this new treatment are encouraging–it is affordable, easy to administer and rarely has side effects,” said infectious disease specialist, Gordana Simeunovic, MD, Spectrum Health.

Spectrum Health is part of the National Convalescent Plasma Project for COVID-19 patients, which includes physician-scientists, universities and hospitals throughout the nation studying the use of convalescent plasma therapy on COVID-19 patients. Spectrum Health has partnered locally with Michigan State University to further this cause.

For more information on donating convalescent plasma, call (269) 983-8261.