PGH seeks more plasma donors as it loses 5 patients to COVID-19 daily
MANILA, Philippines — The Philippine General Hospital (PGH) on Wednesday renewed its call for blood plasma donors as it reported losing five patients to COVID-19 every day for the past three weeks.
Explaining the death rate, PGH spokesperson Dr. Jonas del Rosario said most of the COVID-19 patients who died were at the emergency room and intensive care unit for being in critical or severe condition, while others succumbed to the respiratory disease upon arrival.
The PGH in Manila is one of the three medical facilities designated by the government as COVID-19 referral hospitals, the other two being Dr. Jose N. Rodriguez Memorial Hospital (formerly Tala Hospital) in Caloocan City and the Lung Center of the Philippines in Quezon City.
According to Del Rosario, 220 out of 250 beds allocated for COVID-19 patients at PGH were occupied as of Tuesday.
“Before March, we had only less than 100 COVID-19 patients admitted. We are still operating with 220 COVID-19 patients now, and this is double the number we had before March,” Del Rosario said at a televised public briefing.
The Department of Health (DOH) reported the highest daily death toll at 401 on April 9, as Metro Manila and nearby provinces experienced a surge in infections.
Drawn from survivors
Amid the rise in positive cases and deaths, Del Rosario reiterated calls for blood plasma donations to help in the ongoing clinical trial on the use of the convalescent plasma in the treatment of the disease.
Interested donors should be 18- to 59-year-old COVID survivors and who no longer exhibited symptoms two weeks before the transfusion. They should also be free of any debilitating illness.
Convalescent plasma is part of the blood taken from a person who had recovered from the disease. Doctors and researchers, studying its potential to become an adjunctive therapy, believe the plasma contains antibodies that could help in the early treatment of COVID-19.
The PGH and the Department of Science and Technology began its study on the experimental treatment last year during the first few months of the outbreak.
In September, the Food and Drug Administration said 429 out of 526 patients who were given plasma had recovered from the disease and showed good results.
A University of the Philippines fraternity, Scintilla Juris, has also renewed its plasma donation drive, dubbed “Blood Sparks for Life.”
The project has so far accepted 19 donors who underwent plasmapheresis or plasma collection at St. Luke’s Medical Center in Taguig City.
“It didn’t hurt at all. The actual plasmapheresis took only about 40 minutes (although) there’s a blood screening prior…to determine if you have enough antibodies to share,” said program head and COVID-19 survivor, Mike Alvir.
Infection among staff
In the first week of March, as the Department of Health (DOH) reported new highs in the country’s daily tally of new COVID-19 cases, at least 15 health workers at PGH tested positive during that period alone.
That particular transmission among the staff later resulted in the exposure of at least 80 more, forcing PGH officials to temporarily stop accepting walk-in, non-Covid patients.
Del Rosario said most of the sickened workers had already recovered, while some of those who were put in isolation tested negative for the virus.
He said the recent, two-week enforcement of enhanced community quarantine (ECQ) in Metro Manila and four nearby provinces helped PGH gain “a little bit of improvement” in terms of bed capacity,
Nearly 80 percent or around 6,000 of the hospital’s medical front-liners had been inoculated either with CoronaVac or AstraZeneca COVID-19 vaccines since the national rollout on March 1, he also reported.
Those who declined to be vaccinated either cited “personal reasons” or their ongoing recovery from the infection, he added.
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