(Robbinsdale, MN – May 6, 2020) North Memorial Health is asking for plasma donors as part of a Mayo Clinic study that treats hospitalized COVID-19 patients with convalescent plasma therapy. North Memorial Health hopes to enroll as many patients in the study as possible, based on plasma availability and hospital resources. Since initiating the study three weeks ago, has been able to provide this treatment to more than 30 patients.
People who have recovered from COVID-19 and for whom at least 28 days have passed since the onset of symptoms are urgently needed as plasma donors so the treatment can be made available to more patients. Potential donors can be screened for eligibility and schedule donation appointments online with The American Red Cross, the primary blood bank partner for this study. Memorial Blood Center is also taking plasma donations.
“Plasma has a long history of being used to treat diseases with relatively limited complications, so we’re excited to participate in this study and offer the treatment to our patients,” said Dr. Leslie Baken, an infectious disease specialist and medical director of Infection Prevention and Antimicrobial Stewardship at North Memorial Health Hospital. “Although we’re all still learning about the best ways to treat COVID-19, there is strong potential for the efficacy of convalescent plasma therapy based on past history.”
Antibodies from donor plasma can help COVID-19 patients by neutralizing the virus or causing an immune response, which in turn helps the patient’s own immune system fight the virus more effectively. To be selected for this study and receive the treatment patients must be hospitalized and experiencing trouble breathing. Patients within this category and who have other chronic conditions like diabetes or hypertension are prioritized for the study.
Donors typically give about one cup of plasma, the same amount in a single infusion. “That means for every donor we can treat one more person as a result of the study. We’re urging everyone who believes they may qualify to contact the Red Cross as soon as possible,” said Dr. Baken. Dr. Baken added the pool of potential donors is increasing significantly. This week it was reported that 1,202 patients had recovered from COVID-19 in the state.
More than 2,000 sites across the United States are participating in the Mayo Clinic study. North Memorial Health is one of the first hospitals in Minnesota to be treating patients with convalescent plasma therapy as part of the new study.
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At North Memorial Health, we are on a mission to change healthcare. We’re delivering unmatched customer service and empowering our customers throughout the Twin Cities to achieve their best health. North Memorial Health provides access to high-quality, low-cost care throughout the Twin Cities through its medical transportation services and two hospitals – North Memorial Health Hospital and Maple Grove Hospital. North Memorial Health Clinics which include primary care, specialty care and hospice are part of a joint venture with Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Minnesota that is transforming the healthcare experience for consumers. Across the North Memorial Health system, 900+ doctors and 5,000+ team members are dedicated to delivering a more connected experience for our customers.