Convalescent plasma therapy for COVID-19 patients—an experimental approach of giving a transfusion of plasma collected from a donor who has recovered from COVID-19 to a patient with an active infection—is the focus of a new two-part program at Penn Medicine Lancaster General Health:
- LG Health’s Blood Bank and Donor Center will first collect COVID-19 convalescent plasma (CCP) from donors who have recovered from their infection and meet a set of eligibility requirements.
- The health system will conduct clinical trials to test the safety and efficacy of giving that plasma to hospitalized patients with moderate to severe COVID-19 infections.
LG Health has been approved by the Mayo Clinic Institutional Review Board to participate in the national research study, as part of Mayo Clinic’s expanded access program. Joseph Kontra, MD, LG Health Chief of Infectious Disease, will serve as Principal Investigator for the study at LG Health.
“Plasma transfusions from people with COVID-19 antibodies have shown promise to improve the health of some patients with severe or life-threatening COVID-19 infection,” said Dr. Kontra. “LG Health is pleased to offer patients in our community the opportunity to benefit from investigational therapies at a time when treatments for this new disease are very limited.”
Attending physicians at Lancaster General Hospital will order CCP transfusions—similar to a blood transfusion—to be administered to COVID-19 patients based on clinical criteria. The plasma will be provided by the American Red Cross until LG Health obtains its own supply from community donors.
"Every donation of COVID-19 convalescent plasma produces enough plasma to administer to two patients,” explains Sarah Nassau, MD, pathologist and Section Director of the LG Health Blood Bank and Donor Center.Individuals age 16 and older who tested positive for COVID-19 and have been symptom-free for 28 consecutive days may be eligible to donate plasma. For more information on how to donate, please visit lghealth.org/COVIDplasma or call 717-544-1145.