Health officials say plasma from former coronavirus patients may help treat current patients

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MEMPHIS, Tenn. — Some doctors believe plasma from a former coronavirus patient can be beneficial to a current patient.

Doctors at Baptist Memorial Hospital says the theory is that those who get the virus will eventually build antibodies to fight it off. The idea is that those same antibodies can be used to treat someone else.

Infection disease physician Dr. Stephen Threlkeld says once a person contracts COVID-19, their bodies start building immunity against the virus. He says there is no known drug or cure for COVID-19, but recent studies suggest plasma donations can be helpful in recovery.

“Historically, donating plasma and transferring somebody’s antibodies to a sick patient can be helpful. It is highly variable from disease to disease, person to person,” Threlkeld said.

Threlkeld says there’s still a lot of research that needs to be done, and doctors are still awaiting FDA approval to match a donor with a patient. However, he says it’s something everyone should consider.

“If it’s negative, and we can document that you recover, be thinking about your willingness and availability to donate the plasma,” Threlkeld said.

Jeannette Hollowell is a coronavirus survivor. In early March, she was diagnosed with the virus. Since then, she’s been on a road to full recovery.

Hollowell says she has to pass two more tests in order to be considered COVID-19 free. But she says she’s already thinking about her first move once she’s given the all clear from doctors.

“I know that I can get those negative tests behind me and then I can go to doctors office, and start giving plasma that will save the lives of other people,” Hollowell says.

Threlkeld says if you’ve tested positive for COVID-19, you should expect to get tested multiple time to make sure you are clear of the virus.

He says from there you should consult with your doctor for guidance on whether you should or can donate plasma. 

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