Albany Med is among the first hospitals in the country to obtain Food and Drug Administration (FDA) approval to use convalescent blood plasma therapy to experimentally treat critically ill patients who are infected by the novel coronavirus (COVID-19).
Convalescent plasma therapy—or plasma from a survivor of an infectious disease—was the same treatment used during the 1918 flu pandemic.
When fighting illness, the body produces antibodies—proteins that counteract a pathogen. Antibodies remain in plasma for weeks or months after recovery. The antibodies in patients who have recovered from COVID-19 attack the virus and can potentially be useful as a treatment for the virus, Albany Med officials said.
Albany Med’s first plasma donation was collected from an employee who has fully recovered from COVID-19, officials said. It has been administered to a critically ill patient at Albany Med admitted with COVID-19.
“As the region’s only academic medical center, Albany Med participates in many cutting-edge clinical research trials,” said Dr. Dennis P. McKenna, president and CEO of Albany Med.
Albany Med seeks additional plasma donors for treatment of critically ill patients with COVID-19. Eligible donors must be fully recovered from COVID-19 with no symptoms for at least 14 days. Candidates will be retested to ensure that the virus is no longer in their system. Once approved, the donations will then be collected by the American Red Cross similarly to how blood donations are made.
To determine eligibility, those who have recovered from COVID-19 can call 518-262-9340.
The Mayo Clinic is the coordinating site for the Convalescent Plasma Expanded Access Program.