UIHC begins clinical trial of plasma transfusions to treat COVID-19

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An image of the CDC’s COVID-19 diagnostic panel — Centers for Disease Control and Prevention

University of Iowa Health Care announced on Wednesday that a team of researchers has “started a new clinical trial to determine if plasma from recovered COVID-19 patients can help treat patients currently hospitalized with the disease.”

“Convalescent plasma has previously been used to mitigate or prevent infection in other viral diseases,” Dr. Brooks Jackson, University of Iowa vice president for medical affairs and dean of the UI Carver College of Medicine, said in a written statement. “Our goal is to provide a treatment option, beyond the standard supportive care, for every one of our hospitalized patients with COVID-19.”

The research program has received donations of plasma from 11 recovered COVID-19 patients, and researchers are looking for more donations from people who were infected, but “have been symptom-free for two weeks and have tested negative for the virus.”

“People who have been asymptomatic for 28 days would also be eligible without needing a negative test,” according to UIHC. “In addition, these donors go through the same screening process that is used for all donors of blood, platelets, or plasma.”

“Once enrolled, participants donate their plasma at the DeGowin Blood Center at UI Hospitals & Clinics. The process involves a plasmapheresis machine that takes blood from the donor, separates the plasma, which contains the antibodies, and returns the red blood cells back into the donor. The donation process takes about 90 minutes.”

Those who qualify and are interested in donating plasma should call 319-678-7922 or email

UIHC said five COVID-19 patients have already received plasma transfusions, but provided no further information about those patients.

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