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First patient treated with convalescent plasma at Saint Joseph Mercy Health

A hospitalized COVID-19 patient in Ann Arbor received donated plasma from a recovered patient.
Credit: 13 On Your Side

A Michigan health system provided its first plasma treatment to a hospitalized COVID-19 patient. 

Saint Joseph Mercy Health treated a patient at its Ann Arbor hospital with plasma donated by a person who has recovered from the virus, as part of the Mayo Clinic Coordinated Expanded Access to Convalescent Plasma Program. 

The health system says 11 of its patients were among the first 200 nationally to be registered for the Mayo Clinic trial that will include more than 1,000 hospitals nationwide. Four member hospitals of the health system, St. Joseph Mercy Ann Arbor, St. Joseph Mercy Oakland, St. Mary Mercy Livonia and Mercy Health Muskegon – Mercy Campus, are participating in the program.

A COVID-19 patient at the Mercy Health Muskegon - Mercy Campus also received plasma donated by a person who has recovered from the virus. 

"Early participation in this program is due in part to our robust oncology research program, which gave us the ability to quickly develop our plasma program to respond in the hopes of helping to bring forward a treatment for COVID-19 as soon as possible," said Anurag Malani, M.D., medical director, Infection Prevention and Control, Saint Joseph Mercy Health System, who serves as Principal Investigator. "Our focus now is to spread the word to those who have had COVID to donate their plasma for use in this program."

Patients who recover from COVID-19 are able to do so because their blood contains antibodies capable of fighting off the virus that causes the illness, which is why recovered patients are now being asked to donate their plasma to help hospitalized patients. Patients must be inpatient and have severe or life-threatening COVID, or be at risk of developing severe disease in order to receive this treatment, according to Mercy Health. Patients must also consent to receive the treatment.

It is still not entirely known if this treatment will or will not help those with COVID-19, or if it will have any negative effects, according to the health system. But, this national program will help researchers collect important information on the patients who receive the treatment.

For recovered patients interested in learning more about donating, go to www.RedCross.org and click on 'learn more' in the Convalescent Plasma section. 

St Joe's Ann Arbor is also one of only two sites in the state to participate in Gilead's Remdesivir Expanded Access Program, which is an experimental antiviral drug being used to treat COVID-19 patients. Mercy Health Saint Joseph says only patients requiring ventilator support are eligible for this program. The health system has registered 16 patients to the trial to date.

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