PGH calls for blood donation from COVID-19 survivors to help severely ill patients

PGH calls for blood donation from COVID-19 survivors to help severely ill patients
The National Kidney and Transplant Institute sets up a tent which was converted into a receiving area for medical workers to screen possible COVID-19 patients in Quezon City on midnight of April 2.
The STAR / Michael Varcas

 MANILA, Philippines — The Philippine General Hospital is calling on “COVID-19 survivors” to donate blood as they study antibodies they carry, which may help improve the condition of those severely ill from the novel coronavirus disease.

Dr. Jonas Del Rosario told GMA News Dobol B on Friday that UP-PGH is asking those who recovered from COVID-19 to donate their blood.

He explained that those who recovered or "COVID-19 survivors" carry antibodies in their blood, in the plasma, “because they have recovered, they have produced an immune response through their antibodies.” 

“These will be given to those patients who are still fighting COVID-19, those severely ill,” Del Rosario added in a mix of English and Filipino.

Del Rosario, however, said that this is not a standard practice and still in “experimental stage.” He said that this was also done in past pandemics.

Convalescent plasma, the fluid in blood teeming with antibodies post-illness, has proven effective in small studies to treat infectious diseases including Ebola and SARS.

In the United States, its Food and Drug Administration has greenlit physicians to experiment with the strategy as coronavirus patients fill hospitals and the nations positive caseload spikes to 236,000.

Recovery rate higher than mortality rate

Del Rosario also noted that there are more patients who have recovered that those who died.

Agence France Presse reported that, globally, there are at least 1,000,036 infections and 51,178 deaths due to the contagion. At least 186,000 patients, meanwhile, have recovered from the disease.

In the Philippines, the Health department reported on Thursday 2,633 infections, 107 deaths and 51 recoveries.

Health authorities have been working to increase testing capacity and subnational testing laboratories are already being set up across the country. Mass testing is seen to start on April 14.

Del Rosario said that they will still screen those who would donate blood and make sure they are healthy.

“Normally, if you acquire COVID-19, the test will be repeated. You need to become COVID-19 negative, which means [the pathogen] is no longer in your system. Usually there will be another two weeks that you will recover before they can become a designated donor,” he also explained.

Those who wish to donate may contact Dr. Sandy Maganito through 09178053207 or call the UP PGH COVID hoteline 155200. — Kristine Joy Patag with reports from Agence France Presse

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