Researchers test antibodies in plasma from recovered patients to treat COVID-19.

PHOENIX (3TV/CBS5) -- Researchers at the Mayo Clinic are trying out an experimental therapy to treat patients who are sick with COVID-19. "Convalescent plasma" is an old-fashioned treatment that may work on this new disease.

“There’s enough historical evidence to tell us that, yeah, this will probably work,” says Dr. Jill Adamski, chair of laboratory studies at the Arizona Mayo Clinic. “Convalescent plasma is one of the oldest medical therapies that’s still in use. We’ve used it in the past for treating people with measles, for treating patients with polio.”

Convalescent plasma involves extracting virus-fighting antibodies from the plasma of individuals who have recovered from COVID-19 and then, through transfusion, giving those antibodies to people who are currently sick with COVID-19. Researchers hope the treatment will cure people who are too sick to recover on their own.

Because there was a lag in COVID-19 testing in Arizona, only select people are eligible to donate plasma for this project because they must prove they had the virus.

“In the ideal world, everybody who got sick would have been tested, but we know that wasn’t the case, unfortunately,” says Dr. Adamski.

The good news, Adamski says, is that one plasma donation could potentially treat up to five people. Just like blood donations, plasma donations must be compatible with the recipient. Adamski says there is a nationwide effort to build a registry to help medical teams locate the right donation for the right person.

Mayo has teamed up with Vitalant to collect donations. Potential donors must have had a prior COVID-19 diagnosis, have experienced at least 14 days without symptoms, and have current negative test results. Potential donors can find information to register online. “We anticipate next week we will be receiving our first donation,” says Dr. Adamski.

She says she’s moved by how many people want to help. “It shows that we’re all in this together,” says Dr. Adamski. “It’s more than just the hospital team, it’s the community coming together


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