SMYRNA, Tenn. (WKRN) — It’s a rare sight in recent months, a party at the entrance of a hospital.
A nurse pushed a 28-year-old man in a wheelchair out the glass doors, as doctors and nurses cheered on the sidelines.
The celebration is TriStar hospital’s first patient recovered from COVID-19 with the treatment of convalescent plasma.
“This young kid, who basically got a very terrible version of COVID-19, ended up in our ICU, became very sick, and then recovered very quickly with plasma,” said Dr. Vineesha Arelli, a Critical Care Physician at TriStar StoneCrest Medical Center, “We gave him two doses of it, very quickly on he started improving and now has walked out… not requiring any other oxygen and not requiring any other therapy.”
A team of doctors at TriStar StoneCrest requested plasma from Blood Assurance before Mayo Clinic had even started their trial.
“We collect blood from donors who have been diagnosed with COVID-19 and they’ve recovered,” said Dr. Liz Culler, the Medical Director with Blood Assurance.
“I think it’s definitely one of the solutions. As a medical community, one of the fears that we have with COVID-19 was the inability to predict it and and the inability to treat it as well,” Dr. Arelli told News 2.
This isn’t their first patient, they’ve tried it with others but they were already too sick.
“The earlier the better is what we’re seeing,” Arelli explained, “When you miss the window when the patients are a little sick, and then they rapidly become very sick, there is a window, and that window gives you an opportunity to try different maneuvers like plasma.”
The treatment also requires a stronger patient.
“He had to work really hard, we had to get him out of the bed to the chair, we had to make him turn over in the bed, being the prone position as you’ve been told, laying on his stomach, that’s a lot of hard work when you’re very sick and you’re on a very high amount of oxygen,” said Arelli.
While Remdesivir medication and monoclonal antibodies are not widely available yet, Dr. Arelli said this is a promising solution.
“Plasma is unique, it’s people giving to people,” she said.
One donation can help up to four people, adds Culler.
Blood Assurance hosts blood drives every week. You can sign up on their website and complete questions prior to your appointment. The Red Cross is also collecting plasma.