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Willis-Knighton launches clinical trial for COVID-19 therapy, donors needed

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FILE – In this Feb. 18, 2020, file photo, Dr. Zhou Min, a recovered COVID-19 patient who has passed his 14-day quarantine, donates plasma in the city’s blood center in Wuhan in central China’s Hubei province. Plasma from recovered COVID-19 patients contains antibodies that may help reduce the viral load in patients that are fighting the disease. (Chinatopix via AP, File)

SHREVEPORT, La. (KTAL/KMSS) – Willis-Knighton Health System has begun a clinical trial for the use of convalescent plasma therapy as an experimental treatment of COVID-19.

According to Willis-Knighton, patients who recover from the COVID-19 infection have large amounts of antibody against the virus in their blood. Plasma rich in antibodies can be removed from a person who has recovered by a simple procedure in a blood bank and given to a patient ill with COVID-19.

In a few small studies, it appears that this convalescent serum has had positive effects on the course of infection. WK says additional research is needed to determine overall effectiveness.

“We need donors,” says Joseph Bocchini, MD, an infectious disease specialist at Willis-Knighton who initiated the project. “We will be enrolling patients for 12 months. We will not know how long it will take before enough patients have been enrolled to determine if the treatment is effective.

WK says blood and plasma are commonly used to treat many conditions and in general are very safe products prepared in a blood bank. Donors are screened with the same protocols as blood donors.

“The study will evaluate whether treatment is successful in decreasing the length of stay in an acute care facility, decreasing the days spent in ICU, decreasing the days on a ventilator and increasing survival until discharge, says Carrie Kay, clinical research manager for Willis-Knighton.

Recovered patients are eligible to donate two weeks after they developed symptoms if they have a negative follow-up virus test or 28 or more days have passed since the start of their infection.

Recovered patients are urged to contact their primary care doctors, Carrie Kay at (318) 212-8130 or LifeShare if they are willing to serve as a donor.

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