COVID-19 patients at Hardin Memorial Health now have access to a new treatment study using plasma from recovered COVID-19 patients, according to an HMH news release.

The breakthrough convalescent plasma treatment allows current COVID-19 patients to receive plasma from recovered patients. The study is being spearheaded locally by Hardin Memorial Health physician Natalie Harper, M.D., Ph.D., Hematology/Oncology with assistance from Ben Cundiff, D.O, Pulmonary and Critical Care and Gwen Godfrey, D.O., Pathology.

Convalescent plasma contains antibodies believed to fight the COVID-19 virus which may help patients improve more quickly.

“HMH is working hard to bring every possible supportive health resource to our COVID-19 patients,” Dr. Harper said in the news release. “The convalescent plasma will be used initially to treat two HMH patients with serious or immediately life-threatening COVID-19 infections with high risk of illness progression.”

Plasma donations are collected from recovered COVID-19 patients willing to support to the study.

“In order for this study to work, it is important we have access to convalescent plasma,” Dr. Harper said. “We are thankful to the donors around the country who are making this possible for HMH patients and we ask other recovered local COVID-19 patients to consider donating plasma. One donor can help up to four others with the disease.”

“Our strategy to hire the best and brightest physicians shows up strong in this case,” Dennis Johnson, HMH president and CEO, said in the release. “Dr. Harper earned a Ph.D. in pharmacology, the branch of medicine concerned with the uses and effects of drugs with emphasis on research, along with her medical degree so she is uniquely qualified to bring this kind of revolutionary treatment to HMH. Dr. Cundiff and Dr. Gwen Godfrey are also gifted leaders and ready to transform care at HMH. Baptist Health and Mayo Clinic collaboration helped as well.”

People who have fully recovered from COVID-19 may qualify to donate plasma if they meet specific donation eligibility requirements:

• A COVID-19 diagnosis confirmed by laboratory test

• Have fully recovered from COVID-19 for at least two weeks

• Are at least 17 years old and weigh at least 110 pounds (additional weight requirements apply for donors age 18 or older)

• Feel well, generally, even if being treated for a chronic condition

To donate, recovered COVID-19 patients are encouraged to go to redcrossblood.org where information about plasma donation can be found on the homepage.

“Recovered COVID-19 patients have the opportunity to be part of a landmark study to help us beat COVID-19,” Harper said. “Their participation could save lives.”

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