Did you survive coronavirus? Rutgers seeks blood donors for possible antibody treatment

Rutgers is seeking blood donations from people who survived the coronavirus to potentially help save the lives of those still currently battling COVID-19.

Rutgers doctors at University Hospital in Newark are hoping that antibodies found in the plasma of those who have already recovered from the disease could be used as a treatment. Donors must have a laboratory-confirmed case of COVID-19, and be otherwise eligible to donate blood.

Convalescent plasma — which is taken from survivors of an illness that has antibodies for that illness— is being investigated globally as a potential treatment for the novel virus. There are currently no specific drugs or vaccines for the coronavirus.

Rutgers doctors and University Hospital received FDA approval to begin using convalescent plasma to treat coronavirus patient on April 10. So far, 17 patients have been treated with the plasma, and doctors are awaiting on FDA approval for further treatments.

"The use of convalescent plasma – blood plasma from individuals who have recovered from COVID-19 – presents real hope for saving lives,” said Marc Klapholz, Chair of the Department of Medicine at Rutgers New Jersey Medical School and University Hospital, and a lead investigator into for use of Convalescent COVID-19 plasma

It’s not clear how effective treating COVID-19 with convalescent plasma is, but similar treatments have been studied in Ebola and MERS patients. Preliminary studies on the treatment on COVID-19 patients in China has been promising, with all those who received the convalescent plasma recovering.

Hackensack University Medical Center recently received approval to conduct antibody treatment for their patients. The Red Cross is also collecting donations of convalescent plasma.

Coronavirus survivors who are interested in donating plasma at University Hospital can contact the Rutgers and University Hospital COVID-19 Treatment Group at 973-972-5474 or by email covidplasma@uhnj.org.

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