ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. (KRQE) – Agencies across New Mexico are partnering up, trying a new method to treat COVID-19 patients. The community effort may even give scientists more insight into the virus.
“When you think of healthcare, and there’s multiple systems in the state and in the country, competing at different levels, this is one thing where there’s absolutely no competition and no expectation of reciprocity,” said Dr. Michael Crossey, CEO of TriCore Reference Laboratories.
TriCore Labs , Vitalant Blood Center and New Mexico hospitals across the state including Lovelace , Presbyterian and University of New Mexico Hospital are working together on a new project. They’re reaching out to people who tested positive for the coronavirus and recovered , asking them to donate their plasma.
“By transfusing convalescent plasma into current patients with COVID-19, it’s one potential treatment option,” said Dr. Chakri Gavva, Medical Director of the Presbyterian Hospital Blood Bank and a member of Pathology Associates of Albuquerque. “We’re able to identify patients with positive test results, contact them, basically call them, and see if they’d be interested in enrolling in a study that we’re doing.”
TriCore is working with the recovered patients to take samples from them that can be used to study the virus in the future, then referring them to Vitalant where they can donate their plasma to be used for a patient in need. The plasma is full of antibodies which bind to the virus and neutralize it, while building up the body’s immune response.
“Convalescent plasma has been used for the last 100 years on different diseases,” said Dr. Gavva. “It’s been used also in SARS, it’s been used in MERS.”
Doctors say this plasma can help buy time until a vaccine or other definitive therapies are available. Plasma collected from those who donate here in the state will treat fellow New Mexicans.
“That plasma is not tagged for any specific hospital. It’s tagged, it can be used basically as a community resource for hospitals in New Mexico that need it,” said Dr. Gavva. “It’s just one great example of New Mexicans helping other New Mexicans.”
The state’s healthcare and scientific industries say in a time where many circumstances can be looked at negatively, this collaboration between healthcare leaders and the people has created something positive. They say it’s good, seeing former patients give back to others in need.
“The plasma that’s taken from patients in New Mexico is used to treat patients in New Mexico,” said Dr. Crossey. “I think when you can help somebody that’s potentially a neighbor, that really makes a difference.”
Around 50 recovered donors in New Mexico have already enrolled in the convalescent plasma program or plan to enroll. Gavva says he’s been looking at data from similar programs across the country and New Mexico has received as many donors in two weeks as others have in one month, a testament to New Mexicans coming together for each other.
Those who want to donate convalescent plasma must have previously tested positive and be symptom-free for at least 28 days. If you would like to find out more about the program and donate, email: plasmadonationCOVID19@tricore.org . New Mexico Coronavirus Resources
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