May 26, 2020

CRH advances plasma therapy treatment program for hospitalized COVID-19 patients

Columbus Regional Health has provided convalescent plasma therapy to more than 40 patients, well over half of which have been discharged home or continue to improve in condition, since the program began in April.

The experimental therapy program is made possible through a partnership with Mayo Clinic and national blood research institute Versiti. Earlier this month, CRH expanded therapy from classified “critical” patients to “severe” inpatients.

Columbus Regional Health began an immediate plea for plasma donors and outreach efforts to identify past positive COVID-19 patients who had recovered and could be eligible to donate. Versiti Blood Bank of Indianapolis is now offering a weekly mobile donation unit in Columbus. Donations are available through appointment only. 

Background on program

Columbus Regional Health is an official participant in the Expanded Access to Convalescent Plasma Program, which is designed to provide plasma from donors who have recovered from COVID-19 to critical patients suffering from the disease. Plasma from recovered COVID-19 patients contains antibodies that may help fight the disease; therefore patients with COVID-19 may improve faster if they receive the convalescent plasma.

Plasma is the liquid portion of blood and it contains antibodies that help fight off infection. Those who have recovered from the disease have produced specific types of antibodies that fight against the coronavirus. When given to patients suffering from the virus, especially those who are critically ill or immunocompromised, the plasma has shown to improve the patient’s chance of recovering from the virus. Plasma is collected through a participating blood bank and made eligible for use at participating hospitals.

The multidisciplinary steering team at Columbus Regional Health responsible for implementing the program locally, first provided this therapy to a critically ill COVID-19 positive patient on April 14, 2020.

“We are incredibly fortunate and pleased to be able to partner with Mayo Clinic and Versiti Blood Bank to offer this exciting and potentially life-preserving treatment to our most vulnerable patients,” said Dr. Raymond Lee Kiser. “Even though this therapy is still considered experimental it has shown great progress nationally in helping very ill patients make progress in recovery of COVID-19.”


Donors needed.
Columbus Regional Health is seeking potential donors for the program. Potential donors who are eligible for the program will be able to donate at a Versiti Blood Bank location in Indianapolis or the mobile unit that visits Columbus weekly. Their plasma will be used to treat patients in Bartholomew County and surrounding areas.

In order to donate, a person must be at least 18 years of age, weigh at least 110 pounds and meet the following additional requirements:

  •  Have had a confirmed diagnosis of COVID-19 by physician and laboratory testing OR positive test for antibodies
  • Must be symptom free for 14 days before being eligible to donate

Anyone with questions about the donation process or the Expanded Access Convalescent Plasma Program is encouraged to contact their primary care physician or our COVID-19 Triage Resource Center at 812-379-4449

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