WHAT IS CONVALESCENT PLASMA THERAPY?
Convalescent plasma therapy can also be regarded as “Plasma Therapy”, “Plasma Convalescent Therapy”, “Convalescent Plasma” or “Convalescent Plasma Transfusion”.
This plasma therapy involves the extraction of blood from patients who have recovered from a particular illness to aid other patients infected with the same disease to recover.
Plasma therapy can be said to be an artificial means of inducing external immunity by transferring blood. This can boost the immunity of the naive patient towards the disease due to the presence of antibodies now injected into the blood.
The usage of plasma therapy can be dated back to the early 20th century but it is currently in use to study the possibility of eliminating the COVID-19 condition as blood donated by some persons has spiked the rate of recovery from the pandemic.
Convalescent plasma therapy has played a major role in boosting the immune for cases where the cure to the disease is not available. This is done by a convalescent plasma transfusion.
Previous studies on the effect of convalescent plasma therapy show relatively few but promising results. However, some of the studies in this review had moderate or high risks of bias, which indicates more thorough clinical trials are needed. This is supported partially by its relatively low success rate in improving survival from the Ebola virus.
The basic notion behind the plasma convalescent therapy is basically that people with a history of an illness and recovered from it tend to develop and possess antibodies to it that can fight the disease, hence, making them immune.
WHY IS CONVALESCENT PLASMA THERAPY DONE?
Convalescent antibody therapy is done to help patients in hospitals and clinics to recover rapidly. Convalescent blood plasma is mostly done in the early stages of the illness or when the patient’s immune system is reasonably weak.
CONVALESCENT PLASMA THERAPY ELIGIBILITY
Any patient with a weak immune or a particular disease can undergo antibody plasma therapy, though, for the case of the donor, series of tests will be conducted to ensure a safe and healthy process.
CONVALESCENT PLASMA THERAPY PROCEDURE
Several different types of convalescent plasma therapy can be considered. One of the most used and preferred is the “apheresis plasma”. In this case, a great quantity of blood is extracted for each session and these plasma donations are possible more regularly.
The donor’s hemoglobin does not necessarily require consideration due to the reinfusion of the donor’s red blood cells.
The plasma therapy is categorized into the patient’s preparation for the therapy, the procedure of the therapy, and what is to be expected after the therapy.
Before the Procedure:
Before the antibody transfusion is done, the medical practitioner is to prepare the patient vehemently by instructing the patient in food and liquid intake.
Afterward, a team of medical personnel will be present during the process where the anesthesia will be administered to the patient for relaxation.
Then, the doctor injects a sterile single-use needle which will be connected to a tube known as an IV line or intravenous line. This intravenous line will be injected into the vein in the arms.
During the Procedure:
Beginning the process, the convalescent serum containing the donor’s blood is obtained referred to as the plasma.
This plasma is connected to the intravenous line and the plasma begins dripping out of the bag where the medical team member regulates the flow of the blood into the body slowly before adjusting the flow rate to a certain level.
It takes about one to two hours to complete the transfusion successfully.
After the Procedure:
After the blood has been successfully transfused, the patient will be monitored closely to observe for changes in the body and response of the body to this procedure.
The doctor will then record responses to the antibody plasma treatment. Based on these records, the doctor will perform an analysis to determine the stay of the patient in the hospital and any other forms of therapies that will be needed.
CONVALESCENT PLASMA THERAPY RISKS
The risks involved in the blood transfusion is low as it has been used to treat many other conditions. It is considered a safe process. Though, due to the utilization of the convalescent plasma therapy for the COVID-19 case, the risk of contracting the condition has not been tested yet.
Researchers opine that the risk is low because the donors of the blood have fully recovered from the infection before the blood transfusion takes place. Like every other procedure, certain risks must be involved while performing the convalescent plasma therapy and these risks are listed as follows:
- Possible damage to the lungs.
- Difficulty in breathing.
- Few allergies were experienced.
- Possible infections such as Human Immuno-Deficiency Virus (HIV).
- Conditions such as hepatitis B and C.
The risks of infections like the Human Immuno-Deficiency Virus (HIV), hepatitis B, and C are considerably low. Before this, before the blood is administered to the in-bound patient, the blood from the donor passes through series of tests including the serological test to qualify for usage.
Some persons tend to have mild complications or none sometimes all depending on the patient’s condition. While some persons may experience complications or even life-threatening cases.
CONVALESCENT PLASMA THERAPY RESULT
The effect of the plasma convalescent therapy has not been fully understood about the COVID-19. It may or may not experience any change showing improvement, though the antibody plasma will aid the recovery from other diseases.
Recent studies show that data from several clinical trials and testing indicated that convalescent plasma that possesses high antibody levels tends to lessen the severity or deplete the duration of COVID-19 in some patients that have tried the procedure.
This occurred when the blood transfusion was done in the early stages of the disease or those with a weak immune system. Therefore, more research is needed to ascertain the depth of treatment with the aid of convalescent plasma therapy.
CONVALESCENT PLASMA COST
The cost of convalescent plasma therapy is scaled differently in different countries and therefore, there is no universal fixed price. However, the cost of convalescent plasma therapy in the U.S ranges from $5,000 – $10,000.
Is the donation of blood a safe process?
The donation of blood is highly safe and it is recommended due to the presence of certain immune boosters to fight antigens.
Can plasma therapy be used to treat COVID-19?
The effect of plasma therapy on the recovery from COVID-19 has not been fully ascertained as further research is still been conducted.
What is the mortality rate after convalescent plasma therapy?
The mortality rate after the plasma therapy is low as it is placed at a 2-3% rate.
Can plasma therapy lead to HIV?
The chances of contracting HIV from the procedure are very low as the blood is rigorously tested to rule out the possibilities. Therefore, such cases are rare.
When is it safe to undergo plasma therapy?
Plasma therapy is safe and most successful when it is performed in the early stages of the illness or weakness of the immune system.