ST. LUKE’S Medical Center (SLMC) has begun conducting transfusion therapy in a bid to treat coronavirus diseases 2019 (COVID-19) patients who exhibit severe symptoms of the disease. Among the convalescent plasma donors is a Cardiology Fellow of the hospital, Dr. Jennifer Rodriguez.
Convalescent plasma infusion is used to reduce the viral load of severe COVID-19 patients by passively giving them antibodies that developed in the blood plasma of the COVID-19 survivor.
Dr. Rodriguez contracted the disease mid-March after being exposed to a colleague who was found to be COVID-19 positive after doing rounds. Like many doctors with families to return to, Dr. Rodriguez was first and foremost worried about having exposed her loved-ones to the virus. She quickly confined herself to SLMC in order to begin treatment.
The confinement lasted for 10 days, from March 25 – April 4. On her confinement, Dr. Rodriguez said, “I felt sad, of course, that I wouldn’t be able to see my family, but I felt relieved that I would be given treatment to recover.”
Once Dr. Rodriguez recovered from the virus and had two consecutive negative COVID-19 results, she was asked by her department head if she was willing to donate plasma for SLMC’s convalescent plasma program. The program was meant to treat the critical COVID-19 patients with transfusion therapy. Her immediate answer was yes.
“Donating plasma isn’t a bad experience, after all. It would take only an hour for the machine to extract the plasma. It’s not painful either. During the procedure I did not feel anything uncomfortable,” said Dr. Rodriguez. “If it could possibly help those who need, I’m very willing to donate.”
Convalescent plasma has shown enough promise against COVID-19 that many hospitals have adapted it as a possible treatment for the disease. Currently, it is still considered experimental but the method of transfusion therapy dates back to the 1890s.
SLMC has partnered with Security Bank for its convalescent plasma program. According to the hospital, patients who could not afford the treatment will be covered by the financial support donated by the bank.
“Security Bank has been a strong and supportive financial services partner of St. Luke’s Medical Centers (SLMC). We are grateful to have them as an exclusive partner for this project. With their support we will be able to extend the Convalescent Plasma treatment to indigent COVID-19 patients,” said Dr. Benjamin S.A. Campomanes, Chief Medical Officer of SLMC.
“We value our deep partnership with SLMC. They are doing amazing work during this crisis. This promising treatment which utilizes plasma transfusion, can help boost the immunity of critically ill patients, reduce the progression of the sickness, diminish the needs for ICU treatment and ultimately save lives,” said Sanjiv Vohra, President and CEO of Security Bank.
SLMC encourages COVID-19 survivors to donate plasma in order to treat some of the more dire cases in the hospital and increase recovery rate.