Medicine is constantly evolving as new therapies and treatments are introduced to combat current illnesses. In response to the current COVID-19 pandemic, the Mayo Clinic introduced a new treatment called Convalescent Plasma Therapy. This therapy aims to alleviate the severity of COVID symptoms in patients with decreased immune systems using blood transfusions from patients who recovered from the virus.
Convalescent Plasma Therapy is an FDA- approved treatment that uses blood from individuals who previously recovered from disease to aid others in their recovery. Specifically, the therapy includes transferring blood from individuals with high antibody levels to individuals with weakened immune systems who are hospitalized with this virus.The blood that is donated is processed, leaving behind only plasma. Plasma is the liquid portion of blood that contains the antibodies needed for the therapy.
The physical process of the treatment only lasts for one to two hours. After the plasma is extracted, an IV is attached to the patient’s vein (in the arm) and the plasma is transferred. After the patient receives the convalescent plasma, they are monitored in order to assess the effectiveness of the therapy.
Although this therapy has decreased the severity of the diseases, it is imperative to be aware of the risks. Certain risks that have been identified are caused by allergic reactions as well as infections such as HIV, hepatitis B, and hepatitis C. An additional risk that was identified is lung damage and difficulty breathing. Thus, the therapy may only be offered to individuals that are early into contracting the virus or to those with a severely weakened immune system.
The effectiveness of this therapy for COVID patients is not yet known since more studies and clinical trials need to be done. However, it has lessened the severity of the virus and shortened its duration. Thus, when given early, patients with weakened immune systems have shown promising results that the therapy was beneficial to their health.
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Mayo Foundation for Medical Education and Research. (2021, April 28). Convalescent
plasma therapy. Mayo Clinic. Retrieved November 15, 2021, from https://www.mayoclinic.org/tests-procedures/convalescent-plasma-therapy/about/pac-20486440.