OLOL seeing 'severe shortage' in recovered COVID-19 convalescent plasma donations
BATON ROUGE – Doctors at one of Baton Rouge’s largest hospital system say they are seeing a severe shortage of COVID-19 convalescent plasma.
The plasma is donated from patients who have recovered from the virus and given to patients in the hospital with serious cases.
Doctor Vince Cataldo at Our Lady of the Lake Regional Medical Center says its one of the only coronavirus treatments that is known to be safe and say it could help in reducing how long people stay in the hospital.
Convalescent plasma being donated at OLOL only travels a short distance across hospital hallways before being administered to severe patients in their COVID units. But the amount of plasma being taken in has started to drop as interest in the treatment has picked up.
“Because everything we know about the infection is six months old. So we’ve had to learn on the fly of everything that we know about the infection itself. But since we know that convalescent plasma is a safe portion of the therapy for these patients it has become certainly more popular,” Cataldo said.
OLOL has been collecting and giving patients plasma since late April as a part of the Mayo Clinic’s expanded access program. Cataldo says the preliminary results from OLOL and the other 2,500 medical facilities involved nationwide have been encouraging.
“But as the demand has increased over time we’re certainly starting to see a severe shortage of our convalescent plasma,” Cataldo said.
Hospitalizations at OLOL have started to tick up again as East Baton Rouge Parish and the entire state of Louisiana sees an increase in coronavirus cases. Cataldo says that plasma treatment could play a roll in bringing those numbers back down, but adds that it has still not been clinically approved as an effective treatment against COVID.
“What we’re seeing is that, certainly, hospital times are shortened. Hopefully, that’s in part due to the administration of convalescent plasma, which is yet to be proven. But hopefully, as we continue to shorten patients' stay time we can get patients out of the hospital quicker and hopefully that ultimately leads to higher survival from the infection,” Cataldo said.