COVID-19 patient becomes 1st in Milwaukee to donate plasma for those critically ill

MILWAUKEE -- The FDA approved a treatment to use plasma from people who have recovered from the coronavirus to help those infected with COVID-19, and the first plasma donation from a COVID-19 patient happened Monday, April 6 in Milwaukee.

This blood-related treatment -- approved by the FDA as an Emergency Investigational New Drug (EIND) -- could offer hope to the hundreds of patients who continue to be diagnosed -- used by hospitals for the most severely affected patients.

Officials with Versiti announced Thursday, April 2 they would begin collecting plasma from recovered COVID-19 patients to help treat others diagnosed with the virus. Versiti officials said they were among the first in the U.S. to begin collecting convalescent plasma, working with partner hospitals to identify recovered patients.

On Monday, April 6 in Milwaukee, Dave Lal became the first such plasma donor for the blood center.

"This is part of a study to look at, one, does it help, and reaffirm that it helps, and how much it helps, and target which patients have the most benefit from it," said Lal.

“The potential donors must first be proven to have had a COVID-19 diagnosis through a positive lab test result, and must then have a negative test result 14 days after recovering from symptoms,” said Versiti Senior Medical Director Dan A. Waxman, M.D. in the release  “It’s a very collaborative effort with our hospital partners who will be working to identify and verify the donors.”

The donated plasma will be provided directly to the hospitals with whom Versiti is partnering.

The plasma donations, which take 30-40 minutes, are being collected at Versiti donor centers in Illinois, Indiana, Michigan, Ohio and Wisconsin. The donation process is the same as with other plasma donations -- performed using an apheresis machine, which separates the blood components.

Though blood group AB is the universal plasma donor, any blood type donor who has recovered from the virus is eligible to donate as part of the program. 

CLICK HERE to learn more about Versiti, or to schedule a blood or plasma donation.