St. Luke’s doctor donates plasma for severe COVID-19 patients
MANILA, Philippines — After recovering from coronavirus disease (COVID-19) herself, a doctor from the St. Luke’s Medical Center (SLMC) has donated plasma for the hospital’s transfusion therapy program for COVID-19 patients who exhibit severe symptoms.
“Convalescent plasma infusion… reduce the viral load of severe COVID-19 patients by passively giving them antibodies that developed in the blood plasma of the COVID-19 survivor,” the SLMC explained in a release on Friday.
Dr. Jennifer Rodriguez, a cardiology fellow in that hospital, is among those who have recovered from the disease and donated convalescent plasma to active patients. She contracted COVID-19 mid-March after being exposed to a COVID-positive colleague.
“Like many doctors with families to return to, Dr. Rodriguez was first and foremost worried about having exposed her loved-ones to the virus. She quickly confined herself to SLMC in order to begin treatment,” the SLMC said.
“I felt sad, of course, that I wouldn’t be able to see my family, but I felt relieved that I would be given treatment to recover,” Rodriguez said of her confinement, which took 10 days, beginning March 25.
“Donating plasma isn’t a bad experience, after all. It would take only an hour for the machine to extract the plasma. It’s not painful either. During the procedure I did not feel anything uncomfortable,” Rodriguez noted. “If it could possibly help those who need it, I’m very willing to donate.”
Heeding the call of her department head, Rodriguez made the decision to donate convalescent plasma upon recovery to the SLMC’s convalescent plasma program. The hospital in late April said the program gave promising results, with some patients showing improvements just two days upon receiving convalescent plasma from recovered patients.
Dr. Mae Campomanes, a pulmonary consultant at the SLMC, previously said that using convalescent plasma has been proven helpful in previous epidemics such as SARS and MERS-CoV.
“Convalescent plasma has shown enough promise against COVID-19 that many hospitals have adapted it as a possible treatment for the disease. Currently, it is still considered experimental but the method of transfusion therapy dates back to the 1890s,” the SLMC stated.
Through SLMC and Security Bank’s partnership on the said program, patients who could not afford the treatment will be covered by the financial support donated by the bank.
The SLMC is encouraging COVID-19 survivors to donate plasma to help in the treatment of the more dire cases in the hospital and increase the recovery rate.
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