Experimental COVID-19 treatment under development at Ascension Wisconsin

MILWAUKEE -- There is hope for an experimental COVID-19 treatment being worked on by Ascension Wisconsin -- and recovered coronavirus patients may be the key in helping those most at risk for the disease.

A late February ski trip to Austria was supposed to be a vacation well spent for Jeffrey Kluever.

"Out of 15 individuals that we were in contact with, 14 became positive for COVID-19," Kluever said.

After battling a fever, cough and a loss of appetite, Kluever recovered. He said all the credit goes to his primary care team and the Waukesha County Health Department for providing him what he needs.

"Pedialyte was a lifesaver," Kluever said.

Now, there is hope that recovered patients like Kluever can help those battling COVID-19 through plasma.

Dr. Jonathan Treisman

"This is an infectious process and one of the ways of treating infection is to target them with immune proteins, or antibodies, that will kill off the virus," said Dr. Jonathan Treisman.

The antibodies our immune systems develop are found in plasma. Doctors will give transfusions from recovered patients to the most vulnerable -- hoping to kickstart their system and fend off the virus.

"We want to be able to do something more for those patients," Treisman said.

It also gives the recovered, like Kluever, the chance to say thanks and help others reach the same outcome.

Ascension Wisconsin

"For us to give back for the benefit of the individuals who are in a far worse state than we would ever be, it's simply the right thing for us to do," Kluever said.

Ascensio gave its first plasma transfusion to a patient on Thursday night, April 9. They will continue the clinical study for at least 30 days -- hoping for progress.