With COVID-19 spreading worldwide , doctors have been trying to find a cure ever since it started spreading. While several vaccines are in the testing phase, other methods are also under the scanner. One of the most prominent ones is plasma therapy or convalescent plasma therapy.
What is plasma therapy?
Plasma therapy, scientifically called convalescent plasma therapy, is a treatment method employed to combat COVID-19. It is currently in the experimental stage and used on patients with severe cases of COVID-19.
If you recovered from COVID-19, you would have developed certain antibodies. These are proteins produced in our body to fight infections. Note that plasma is the liquid component of the blood. This blood is convalescent plasma.
In plasma therapy, doctors use plasma from recovered persons. Researchers hope to boost the ability of severely affected patients by injecting the convalescent plasma into their blood. They also expect to prevent moderately affected persons from becoming critically ill.
Why plasma therapy?
Researchers hope to treat people who are severely affected by COVID-19 using plasma therapy.
In certain cases, treatments fail to cure COVID-19, and they grow extremely sick. Such patients do not respond to treatment. This raises the risk of acute respiratory distress syndrome (ARDS), an extreme lung condition. Such people may require the assistance of equipment like a ventilator to restore normal breathing.
Organ failure is also a real possibility for such patients. Convalescent plasma therapy may help these people where other methods fail. Convalescent plasma therapy may also help people like health workers or family members of patients with COVID-19.
Doctors can enrol a COVID-19 patient in convalescent plasma therapy under a special access program. Such programs are executed at critical times when there are no existing cures to disease. The method might answer questions regarding the disease while also providing improved methods for further treatment.
Note that plasma therapy can cure other conditions safely. The only risk that remains is the possibility of COVID-19 spreading through convalescent plasma therapy. According to researchers, this threat is minimal since the donor is fully recovered.
There are some other general risks involved in this form of treatment. This includes:
● Struggle to breathe and lung damage
● Transmission of diseases like Hepatitis B and C, as well as HIV
Remember that these risks have low probability because the donated plasma undergo strict testing and analysis before being used. The donated blood is then separated to yield plasma and antibodies.
Who Should Get Plasma Therapy?
Patients with severe COVID-19 are usually considered for convalescent plasma therapy. The treating doctor will take the call, whether it may benefit them or not. After considering your blood type, your doctor will arrange the compatible blood group from the local blood source.
Procedures before therapy
Before the therapy, a team will complete preparations. They will insert a sterilized single-use needle to a vein in your arm. The needle will connect to a tube known as the intravenous line.
The therapy procedure
As the plasma supply arrives, the sterile bag containing plasma is connected to the tube. After this, the plasma slowly drips into the bag and on to the tube. The process usually takes 1-2 hours to complete.
After the procedure
This therapy is not fully tested. So, you will undergo close monitoring during and after the convalescent plasma therapy.
The team notes your reaction to the treatment at various stages. Further, your doctor will inform you how long you have to stay in hospital. In case you have issues like breathing trouble, it may prolong your stay. They will also inform you whether you need other therapies.
We cannot confirm whether convalescent plasma therapy is effective to cure COVID-19, yet. Hence, it is also possible that you do not see any result. With that said, it might improve your ability to recover faster.
The encouraging news is that so far, many people responded positively to convalescent plasma therapy. Monitoring continues on those who received the treatment.
As researchers continue their analysis of COVID-19 treatment methods, experimental therapies like convalescent plasma therapy offer much hope. The data and results will help doctors deal with the pandemic better.