Learn more about how plasma is used in the fight against COVID-19.

People who have recovered from proven coronavirus may be able to help severely ill COVID-19 patients.

UPMC is helping lead a clinical trial in western Pennsylvania that would use plasma from donors who have recovered from COVID-19 to treat people suffering from the disease.

The treatment is called convalescent plasma therapy. The clinical trial, started by clinical researchers at UPMC, is called the COVID Convalescent Plasma Pittsburgh Project (c2p3).

UPMC is seeking people who tested positive for COVID-19 by the nasal swab test and have since recovered to be potential donors for the clinical trial.

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What Is Convalescent Plasma Therapy?

In convalescent plasma therapy, plasma from people who have recovered from an infection is used to treat people currently infected. The donors’ plasma contains antibodies that potentially can help the recipients fight off the infection.

The use of convalescent plasma therapy dates back more than 100 years. It was used during the measles outbreak in the 1890s and Spanish flu pandemic in the early 20th century.

More recently, convalescent therapy was used for patients during the H1N1 flu outbreak of 2009-10 and to treat patients with Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome (SARS). SARS is a coronavirus very similar to the COVID-19 virus. These more recent experiences with convalescent plasma therapy were encouraging, suggesting a decrease in severe respiratory symptoms and improved prognosis in hospitalized patients.

Based on the history of using convalescent plasma in these previous viral outbreaks, UPMC clinical researchers have joined with colleagues across the country to assess convalescent plasma in the COVID-19 pandemic and investigate how it can help with treatment.

UPMC is looking for people who were confirmed by nasal swab testing to have COVID-19 and have since recovered to donate plasma for a clinical trial of convalescent plasma therapy.

Can I Donate Plasma for COVID-19 Treatment?

  • Potential plasma donors for COVID-19 treatment are people who have tested positive for the coronavirus by the nasal swab test, have fully recovered, and have been symptom-free for at least 21 days.
  • The medical team conducting the trial will conduct a phone screening with each potential donor.
  • Candidates who pass the screening then will go to UPMC’s Infectious Disease Clinic in the Oakland neighborhood of Pittsburgh. They will be tested for the coronavirus to ensure their infection is gone, and their blood will be tested for antibodies.
  • Candidates who have cleared the virus and have COVID-19 antibodies will then be referred to Vitalant blood bank for their plasma donation.

If you have recovered from confirmed COVID-19, are feeling healthy, and are willing to donate your blood, you may be able to help sick patients. Please email c2p3@upmc.edu or call (412) 647-9779 to begin the screening process.

Sources
American Society of Hematology. COVID-19 and Convalescent Plasma: Frequently Asked Questions . National Academy of Sciences of the United States. Effectiveness of Convalescent Plasma Therapy in Severe COVID-19 Patients . Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States. Giuseppe Marano, Stefania Vaglio, Simonetta Pupella, Giuseppina Facco, Liviana Catalano, Giancarlo M. Liumbruno, Giuliano Grazzini. Blood Transfusions, Convalescent Plasma: New Evidence for an Old Therapeutic Tool? . Blood Transfusion. Chenguang Shen, PhD, Zhaoqin Wang, PhD, Fang Zhao, PhD, et al. Treatment of 5 Critically Ill Patients With COVID-19 With Convalescent Plasma . Journal of the American Medical Association,.

About UPMC

A $21 billion health care provider and insurer, Pittsburgh-based UPMC is inventing new models of patient-centered, cost-effective, accountable care. The largest nongovernmental employer in Pennsylvania, UPMC integrates more than 90,000 employees, 40 hospitals, 700 doctors’ offices and outpatient sites, and a 3.8 million-member Insurance Services Division, the largest medical insurer in western Pennsylvania. In the most recent fiscal year, UPMC contributed $1.4 billion in benefits to its communities, including more care to the region’s most vulnerable citizens than any other health care institution, and paid more than $500 million in federal, state, and local taxes. Working in close collaboration with the University of Pittsburgh Schools of the Health Sciences, UPMC shares its clinical, managerial, and technological skills worldwide through its innovation and commercialization arm, UPMC Enterprises, and through UPMC International. U.S. News & World Report consistently ranks UPMC Presbyterian Shadyside on its annual Honor Roll of America’s Best Hospitals and ranks UPMC Children’s Hospital of Pittsburgh on its Honor Roll of America’s Best Children’s Hospitals. For more information, go to UPMC.com.