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Scripps tests treating patients with donated plasma from COVID-19 survivors

Robert Riordan, who recovered after contracting COVID-19 in March, recently donated plasma at the Scripps Blood and Marrow Transplant Program at Scripps Green Hospital in La Jolla.
(Courtesy of Scripps Health)

Scripps Health says it is the first health care provider in San Diego County to treat COVID-19 patients with donated plasma from recovered COVID-19 patients.

Though there is no known cure or proven treatment for the disease caused by the novel coronavirus, many believe that plasma that has developed antibodies may be beneficial to those who contract COVID-19.

Convalescent plasma, as it is known, has shown to be a beneficial viral treatment in the past against infectious diseases such as the 1918 flu, SARS, MERS and H1N1, according to the San Diego Blood Bank.

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration has not approved COVID-19 convalescent plasma as a treatment, though it has authorized and regulated its use as an investigational product.

Researchers at UC San Diego Health have found that loss of smell related to the COVID-19 coronavirus suggests the resulting illness is more likely to be mild or moderate, a potential early indicator that could help health care providers determine which patients may require hospitalization.

Scripps did its first convalescent plasma treatment on April 1. Recently a second COVID-19 survivor donated plasma that was administered to a patient.

The donor, Encinitas resident Robert Riordan, donated his plasma at the Scripps Blood and Marrow Transplant Program at Scripps Green Hospital in La Jolla.

He said he contracted the virus in March while on an out-of-state ski trip with friends. In a video interview with Scripps, he said his wife likely also had the disease.

“After we recovered ... we kind of walked around with this feeling of immunity, this feeling that you have tiger’s blood, and we were trying to figure out how can we go help people?” Riordan said. “At that time, [New York City Mayor] Bill de Blasio was asking for nurses and people with medical experience to go to New York. It’s like, ‘Well, I can’t help with that, but this is something I can do.’ We’re regular blood donors ... so when I got the call from Scripps, it was a no-brainer.”

COVID-19 survivors who want to donate plasma through Scripps can call (858) 554-4340 for more information.

The San Diego Blood Bank recently announced that it received plasma donations from four COVID-19 survivors.

Those seeking to become a convalescent plasma donor through the Blood Bank can visit sandiegobloodbank.org/donateplasma. ◆