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Ascension Via Christi: Supply of plasma from patients fully recovered from COVID-19 depleted

Coronavirus in Kansas

WICHITA, Kan. (KSNW) – Ascension Via Christi says the supply of plasma from patients fully recovered from COVID-19 is depleted and the shortage is being felt in Wichita.

Last week, the American Red Cross announced that there was an emergency shortage of convalescent plasma, a potentially life-saving treatment for hospitalized patients with COVID-19.

“We have not received any for five days, but we continue to identify patients who could potentially benefit from receiving it,” says Laura Potter, supervisor of the Blood Bank at Ascension Via Christi St. Francis.

Convalescent plasma is plasma collected from patients who have fully recovered from a COVID-19 infection and have antibodies that might help patients battling the novel coronavirus. Each donation can be used to help up to three hospitalized patients.

Since joining the Mayo Clinic-led trial of using convalescent plasma to help treat patients with COVID-19, Ascension Via Christi has used it in its treatment of more than 80 adult patients at its Wichita hospitals and has four waiting for plasma.

Those patients either have severe or life-threatening COVID-19 disease or have been deemed by their treating physician as being at risk for progression to that stage of the disease. The first patient was infused with convalescent plasma on May 13.

“While the trial is still under way, the majority of the patients have improved sufficiently to be discharged from the hospital,” says Janie Krull, director of Research for Ascension Via Christi, whose hospitals in Manhattan and Pittsburg are also participating in the trial.

According to its announcement, the Red Cross has seen demand for convalescent plasma more than double over the last month as the number of coronavirus cases continues to increase across the U.S.

That’s caused the need for convalescent plasma products to outpace incoming donations.

Individuals who have fully recovered and received a verified COVID-19 diagnosis can sign up to give convalescent plasma by completing the donor eligibility form at RedCrossBlood.org/Plasma4COVID.

Infectious disease specialist Maggie Hagan, who serves as medical director of Infection Prevention and Control for Ascension Via Christi, says she hopes that anyone who meets the criteria to donate will do so.

“Convalescent plasma, along with antiviral medication, is an important weapon as we help patients battle this deadly virus,” says Dr. Hagan.

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