SGMC Partners with Mayo Clinic Study for Treatment of COVID-19 Patients

Staff Report From Valdosta CEO

Friday, May 1st, 2020

South Georgia Medical Center treated it’s first COVID-19 positive patient with convalescent plasma on Tuesday as part of the Mayo Clinic’s COVID-19 Convalescent Plasma Study.

Convalescent plasma refers to blood plasma collected from people who have recovered from COVID-19. That plasma is then used to treat inpatients with advanced COVID-19 illness.

According to Chief Medical Officer Dr. Brian Dawson, "It will take a few days to determine whether the infusion is therapeutic." Dawson shared that there are already two additional patients enrolled in the program who should begin the treatment once the appropriate convalescent plasma is received.

To qualify to donate the plasma, the blood donor must have recovered from COVID-19 and be otherwise eligible to donate blood. After donation, the blood is processed in the lab to obtain the plasma component. The plasma, which contains antibodies that may attack the virus and help to speed up recovery, is then infused into the patient. 

SGMC is asking patients who have tested positive for the virus and recovered to donate plasma at Life South Community Blood Centers. This donation will be processed to make the convalescent plasma required for the clinical trial. 

All donations collected by LifeSouth will stay in our community and will be used exclusively for SGMC patients. If you have recovered from COVID-19, and would like to help, please contact LifeSouth at 888-795-2707 to set up a special donation.

SGMC was accepted and registered as a participating site on Monday and patients admitted to the hospital with proven SARS-CoV-2 infection (the virus that causes COVID-19) may qualify to enroll in a clinical trial. 

Mayo Clinic is the lead institution providing coordinated access to investigational convalescent plasma for hospitalized patients with severe or life-threatening COVID-19, or those who are at risk for the development for severe illness as judged by their doctors, and was designated to do so by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) on April 3.  

Enrollment in the study is based on the protocol’s preset exclusion and inclusion criteria and on the availability of an appropriate blood-type matched unit of convalescent plasma. Being admitted to SGMC with COVID-19 does not guarantee a patient will qualify for this trial, and even if a patient does qualify, because of probable limited convalescent plasma supplies, the patient may not be enrolled in this study and receive convalescent plasma. All participants will sign informed consent as required by the Mayo’s Institutional Review Board, a committee tasked with protecting the rights and welfare of human subjects. 

There is no known safe and effective treatment for COVID-19. As in any clinical research study, it is unknown if the treatment will be therapeutic and there are risks involved. However, based on its use to treat other viral infections, researchers hypothesize that the plasma from recovered patients may contain antibodies that may help fight the disease.