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Local Hospitals Begin Plasma Therapy for COVID-19

Glenwood Regional Medical Center

Two area hospitals announced participation in using plasma from recovered patients to treat COVID-19.

St. Francis Medical Center and Glenwood Regional Medical Center announced today their participation as sites for convalescent plasma for hospitalized patients with severe or life-threatening COVID-19.

No proven treatment currently exists for COVID-19; however, the program will explore whether or not COVID-19 convalescent plasma (CCP), which contains antibodies to the virus that leads to COVID-19, may provide passive immunity to certain patients with severe forms of the illness.

“The treatment is considered experimental yet approved by the Federal Drug Administration (FDA) to be used on an emergency basis,” said Dr. Mark Boersma, chief medical officer at Glenwood.

“People who recover from coronavirus COVID‐19 infection have developed antibodies to the virus that remain in the plasma portion of their blood. Transfusing the plasma that contains the antibodies into a person still fighting the virus can provide a boost to that patient’s immune system and potentially help them recover.”

Dr. John Bruchhaus, co-director of Intensive Care at St. Francis, said “This convalescent plasma expanded access program will give patients who have recovered from COVID-19 an opportunity to give back to their community and potentially help those who will contract the disease in the future.”

Both hospitals are working with LifeShare Blood Center which has begun collecting convalescent plasma from individuals who have recovered from COVID-19. Within 3‐4 days, the plasma can be transfused into a patient with COVID‐19.

COVID-19 convalescent plasma can only be donated by someone who is otherwise eligible to donate blood. Donors must present identification and will be required to bring proof of a positive COVID-19 test result. The positive test may be by previous nasopharyngeal swab or presence of serum antibodies for SARS-CoV-2. Eligible donors must be symptom free for a minimum of 14 days. Donors who have been symptom-free for 14-27 days will need to provide documentation of a negative COVID-19 test. Donors that have been symptom-free for 28 or more days do not require a negative test for donation.

Potential donors of COVID-19 convalescent plasma should contact their physician for completion of eligibility forms. Completed forms may be emailed to or donors may carry it with them to donate. Donors may visit for more information. 

Doctors say it may take one to two weeks to see the full impact of the treatment. According to Dr. William Beebe at Glenwood, “treating the patients earlier may result in better outcomes and we are cautiously optimistic that this will save lives.”