WORCESTER (CBS) – There is no official treatment for the coronavirus, but one of the most promising interventions is showing signs of success in Worcester.

“It’s a terrifying prospect to watch someone get this critically ill this rapidly,” said Dr. Jonathan Gerber, Chief of Hematoloy and Oncology at UMass Memorial Medical Center. “It’s a devastating and explosive type of an illness.”

In the midst of so much illness, suffering, and loss, doctors and researchers at UMass Memorial Medical Center in Worcester are feeling tremendous hope.

“It’s such an exciting prospect now to have weapons to fight this with and particularly ones that can work this dramatically and this quickly,” Dr. Gerber said.

Patient who recovered from coronavirus donates plasma (WBZ-TV)

That weapon – is plasma, from someone else who has recovered from Covid-19.

“We were sweating whether we were going to make it in time. He remained critically ill in the ICU, to the point they were having difficulty even with the assistance of the ventilator; Turning the oxygen literally all the way up to 100%,” said Gerber. “Still having trouble to get him to breathe and worried whether he was going to make it much longer.”

That UMass patient received a dose of plasma Saturday afternoon, and by evening, was showing dramatic improvement.

“Normally we’re waiting months and years to see how we did with a therapy. This is literally hours to days,” Dr. Gerber said.

That patient is weaning off the ventilator, and getting better every day. There are so many others still sick; recovered Covid patients could keep them alive.

“This is really such a great opportunity to give back a gift. Everybody who has had this is a potential hero. There’s the opportunity to save multiple people from one donation. We desperately need it,” Dr. Gerber said.

To donate, recovered Covid-19 patients must be two weeks out from the onset of the infection, and symptom-free for at least three days. All blood types are needed, especially Type AB. Women who have been pregnant are less ideal donors, due to potentially-harmful (to the recipient) antibodies created during pregnancy.

UMass Memorial Medical Center last week began asking residents from Central Massachusetts who have recently recovered after testing positive for Covid-19 to consider signing up for the convalescent plasma registry to join a list of potential plasma
donors to help fight Covid-19. For more information, visit Conquering Diseases.

For providers who have Covid-19-positive patients in recovery who may be candidates to donate plasma, contact UMassCOVIDplasma@umassmed.edu.

Juli McDonald

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