Donating blood is one of the most important acts of solidarity that a citizen can have towards their peers. It is a vital action that comes from someone who knows himself healthy and has the will to give a part of himself to help another person whose health is at risk.
In the context of pandemic, although blood donation is still elementary, the Ministry of Health of the City of Buenos Aires is part of the National Clinical Trial to evaluate the effectiveness of the treatment of plasma transfusion to patients with complications from infection by COVID-19.
People recovered from coronaviruses have antibodies in their blood plasma that could benefit those who are carrying the disease. This could mean an alternative treatment. The research is carried out in the metropolitan area and the safety and efficacy of the treatment have not been reliably demonstrated. So far, 95 people have already donated plasma and 101 patients have received it.
The head of the Hemotherapy Service of the General Hospital of Acute “Dr. Carlos G. Durand ”, Patricia Epstein, explains that “plasma is the liquid part of blood, which in turn has a cellular part, made up of red blood cells, white blood cells, and platelets, but this is not the objective of our test, but the plasma in which these cells are dissolved, “says Epstein and assures that the plasma “Apart from transporting these cells, it also has proteins and immunoglobulins, which are defenses that the body develops for different things.
“The ones that interest us are the ones that act specifically against the COVID-19 virus. The idea is to use it on people who are affected with a certain degree of commitment and who have not yet developed their defenses, which we we can provide these antibodies so that they are in better conditions to solve the disease ”, he adds.
The donation process
A person who has overcome the disease, must first approach to be evaluated by the haemotherapy team of the selected hospital. With the results, specialists will determine if you meet the requirements to continue with the process. Once that instance has been overcome, a second visit is made to specify the plasma donation, which lasts between 45 and 60 minutes. Antibodies are obtained by drawing blood with the apheresis technique. That is, with an automated procedure, the components of the blood are separated, a small fraction of the plasma is selected, and the rest -Red and white blood cells, platelets etc.- is returned to the bloodstream of the donor.
Epstein stresses that “the donor who approaches has a very high level of commitment and once he has made the first donation, he wants to return.” “We have had donors who, complying with the rules, have donated two, three and up to four times”, Indicates.
Also, the doctor explains: “The amount of plasma taken at one time never exceeds 15% of the volume of blood that patient has. So safety margins are important. The body produces a quantity of plasma on a daily basis, so that volume is rearranged and that rate of renewal is what makes it possible for us to return to the donors after 72 hours if necessary. ”
Once the procedure is completed, the plasma is stored frozen until the request is received from the Intensive Care Service for a patient with a severe condition of COVID-19 that complies with the corresponding characteristics in order to receive it. Any person selected by their medical team will be duly informed of the conditions of the investigation and it will be their decision to participate in the clinical trial.
Then, in addition to permanently monitoring the evolution of the condition, evaluations are carried out to analyze and record the effectiveness of the treatment. Plasma transfusion, like any other medical transfusion, has advantages but also risks, being able to cause allergic reactions and acute complications in the patients who receive them.
“We know that this is not a proven treatment, but with the assumption that this could be beneficial, we looked for the right mechanism to start this project. It is hopeful to have the feeling that one in the context of the pandemic can offer some kind of answer, “says Epstein.
Requirements to donate plasma
-Have completed the infection and that 14 days of recovery have passed, with two negative tests for COVID-19.
– Having no history of transfusions, abortions or gestational history.
– Meet the requirements of any regular blood donor: be between 18 and 65 years old, weigh at least 50 kg and be clinically recovered from the infection. Before the donation, the person must sign a specific Informed Consent that explains that their donation is made to be used in patients who enter the National Clinical Trial.
There are five CABA hospitals where you can donate plasma:
– Acute General Hospital Dr. Teodoro Álvarez (Aranguren 2701, Flores).
Contact: email@example.com or 4630-2950 from 8 a.m. to 2 p.m.
– Acute General Hospital Dr. Cosme Argerich (Av. Almirante Brown 240, La Boca). Contact: firstname.lastname@example.org or 4121-0700 int. 2718.
– Carlos G. Durand General Acute Hospital (Ambrosetti 743, Caballito). Contact: email@example.com or 4883-8426 / 4952-5555 int. 126/127.
– Acute General Hospital Dr. Juan A. Fernández (Cerviño 3356, Palermo). Contact: firstname.lastname@example.org or 4808-2654.
– Francisco Javier Muñiz Infectious Hospital (Uspallata 2272, Parque Patricios). Contact: email@example.com or 15-3341-0003. The conformation of research protocols
Each hospital has an Ethics and Research Committee, where the health professionals present the projects with all the details of the new procedure that they want to carry out. Among other things, it is necessary to demonstrate a clear and beneficial objective, and that it is safe for patients, who will be duly informed, and will participate only with their consent.
Once he Committee grants authorization, raises the project, raises it to the Hospital Management. Once studied, if they consider it appropriate, they communicate it to the General Directorate of Hospitals, under the Ministry of Health of the City, an authority that, after a thorough analysis, provides final approval.
In case this happens, the hospital is notified that it can implement the protocol and is requested to report periodic results. The process includes an initial stage of research and planning in which the procedure, the necessary tools, and the personnel that will be involved are analyzed, among other key points. Durand Hospital was a pioneer in this subject within the public health system from the City, and implemented the protocol in mid-March.
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