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Greenwich Hospital offers experimental plasma therapy to COVID-19 patients

Tuesday, April 21, 2020

Greenwich, CT (April 21, 2020) – Ten Greenwich Hospital patients who are critically ill with COVID-19 have received plasma therapy, an experimental treatment that involves blood plasma from people who have recovered from the disease. Greenwich Hospital is participating in a nationwide clinical trial overseen by the Mayo Clinic to administer what is known as convalescent plasma to treat COVID-19.

Plasma is the fluid part of the blood left once the red cells, white cells and platelets are separated. James Sabetta, MD, chief of staff and director of Infectious Diseases, is the study’s principal investor at Greenwich Hospital. The Mayo Clinic was designated the lead investigative institution by the federal government.

“In theory, the plasma contains protective antibodies that can transfer immunity to the coronavirus from a patient who had COVID-19 to someone who is suffering with the disease,” said Dr. Sabetta. “The patients who have received the plasma are still in the hospital recovering. It will take time to treat many patients to determine if the convalescent COVID plasma is of benefit,” he added.

To qualify for the experimental treatment, “patients must have a severe or life threatening infection with COVID-19 or be judged to be at high risk of progression to life threatening disease,” said Dr. Sabetta. Patients or their families must also give informed consent. Greenwich Hospital is getting the plasma from the New York Blood Center. “Our ability to offer this treatment is dependent on the limited supply of plasma,” said Dr. Sabetta.

Plans are underway to screen recovered patients who were tested at Greenwich Hospital to determine if they can register as potential COVID convalescent plasma donors with the New York Blood Center. “We want to support this effort given that the center supplies our convalescent plasma,” Dr. Sabetta said. Plasma therapy has been used in the past to treat SARS, Ebola and a variety of other infections.