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Roswell Park Now Offers Convalescent Plasma to Patients with Severe COVID-19

BUFFALO, N.Y. — Roswell Park Comprehensive Cancer Center now offers convalescent plasma — in this case, plasma from the donated blood of healthy individuals who have had COVID-19 but have now fully recovered and cleared the virus from their bodies — to patients with severe or life-threatening COVID-19 through an expanded access program authorized by the U.S. FDA. 

There are currently no approved treatments for COVID-19. Based on the experience from the COVID-19 epidemic in China, experts believe that patients with this disease may improve 

George Chen, MD

more quickly if they receive plasma from those who have recovered from COVID-19.

The plasma used as part of this program will be made from donated blood containing antibodies that may neutralize SARS-CoV-2, the virus that causes COVID-19. Medical oncologist George Chen, MD, and Joanne Becker, MD, Clinical Chief of the Division of Laboratory Medicine and Medical Director of the Roswell Park Donor Center, are leading the effort at Roswell Park. The Mayo Clinic is the coordinating center for this program nationally. 

“Everything we know about COVID-19 is very recent and fast-moving, but there’s early evidence to suggest that this approach can be clinically beneficial for patients with severe COVID-19,” says Dr. Chen, Associate Professor of Oncology in Roswell Park’s Department of Medicine. “It’s basically a kind of passive immunization designed to bridge patients over until their own immune systems kick in and generate long-term antibodies against COVID-19.”

Joanne Becker, MD

Healthy individuals who have had and recovered from COVID-19 are encouraged to donate blood products to assist this effort. Donors must meet standard criteria for blood donation; be able to provide documentation that they were infected by SARS-CoV-2, the virus that causes COVID-19; and have been asymptomatic for at least 14 days. All plasma donations for this program will be conducted by appointment only. Those who are interested in donating plasma for this effort should first complete our online questionnaire at forms.roswellpark.org/covid-plasma-donation.

The Roswell Park Alliance Foundation has established a fund to support programs, including this effort, that address the highest-priority needs in our response to COVID-19. For more information, go to rideforroswell.org/covid-19-response-fund.

Established in 1964, the Roswell Park Blood Donor Center is among the nation’s oldest blood banks. ­­­The Donor Center will be a resource for other local centers offering this investigational treatment to their patients. For more information, please call 1-800-ROSWELL (1-800-767-9355).



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