Case by case consent is being given for starting Plasma therapy for patients seriously affected with Covid-19.
What is Plasma Therapy?
Convalescent Plasma therapy involves the use of Plasma from a recovered patient of Covid-19. It is presumed that the patient who has recently recovered from the disease will carry the Antibodies to fight the disease. This Antibody rich plasma is then given to a patient suffering from a serious infection, who is probably in the ICU and maybe on the ventilator. Plasma is part of the whole blood without the cells. It is different from Serum.
Who is a Recipient?
A seriously ill patient suffering from Covid-19 is the recipient. The Antibody rich Plasma helps the person to fight the infection more strongly.
Who is a Donor?
A patient who has successfully beaten the infection and has got better recently is a likely Donor – usually about four weeks from recovery.
Are some Tests done to see who can donate and receive this Plasma?
Just like Blood donation, it is very important to ensure Compatibility.
Donor factors-Must be healthy with good Haemoglobin levels
- Test for HIV, Hepatitis B, and Hepatitis C must be negative
- Blood Group and Rh compatibility must be done in ideal cases
- Ideally, Antibody Titres should be done to judge for the effectiveness of the Plasma
Explain the whole process
In an ideal situation – a person has caught Covid-19 infection and has since recovered. He is asked if he would like to donate his plasma in case it is needed for serious patients. Once his consent is obtained he is kept on the list of potential donors.
About 28 days later he is called to donate Plasma – ideally, this should be done by a process called Apheresis where only the Plasma is extracted and the blood cells are returned to the patient. This has two advantages:
- The patient does not feel the weakness/ fatigue which can sometimes happen after a whole blood transfusion
- Since only Plasma is removed the person is potentially able to donate again in a short span of two weeks or so.
This Antibody rich Convalescent Plasma is then stored at an appropriate temperature – like blood in a blood bank.
A patient is deteriorating in the ICU. The treating team takes a decision or considers the use of Convalescent Plasma as a therapeutic option.
Permission is taken from Government agencies to give the therapy.
Once permission is granted, the blood of the patient is matched with the Plasma to check for compatibility. If all is fine, the therapy goes through and about 250 ml of the Plasma is given Intra Venous.
How successful is this Treatment?
It is too soon to say. Initially permitted by the WHO for treatment of the Ebola Virus outbreak, this treatment is a part of therapeutic options for a very seriously ill patient.
Are there any side effects?
Though the risk is low there is always the possibility of some reaction to the Plasma which is being used.