Mercy Hospital started treatments with convalescent plasma

Mercy Hospital announced Monday that three patients have been treated with convalescent plasma from people who have recovered from the coronavirus. 

The hospital reached out to potential donors on April 4 and got their first donation two days later. 

“The first donor was here quickly and just as excited to do his part to help others. We look forward to providing this option to appropriate COVID-19 patients across our health system,” said Director of Mercy Blood Donor Services Dr. Emily Schindler. 

The hospital has already transfused three patients but they are still actively looking for plasma donations. Interested donors must have a positive COVID-19 test result, be 28 days symptom free and then tested negative for the virus. 

Plasma from one donor can be used to help three people.

Recovered patient Walter Lamkin said he immediately agreed to donate when he got the call from Mercy. 

“I want to make something good out of a bad situation and hope to make more people aware of how easy the process is,” Lamkin added. “It was very simple, painless, you feel a little prick when they stick the needle in but other than that it was very simple.”

Lamkin said he started having symptoms while in Vail, Colorado in late February. He said he flew home in early March and tested positive at the Mercy drive-thru site in Chesterfield. 

He says he felt bad for the first days after coming home but then felt better.

“It’s a little emotional for me because when you’re helping someone like that, it’s what we all should do, but I know everyone has their own lives,” he said. “But I could not look myself in the mirror had I said ‘no”

According to the FDA, convalescent plasma that contains antibodies to SARS-CoV-2, the virus that causes COVID-19, might be effective in fighting the virus. Once collected, the plasma will be distributed to hospitals treating patients.

Doctors will identify the eligible patients so they can consent to the treatment. Once they have been treated, all improvements and reactions will be tracked.

In a press release, Mercy said convalescent plasma has not yet been shown to be effective specifically in treated the coronavirus.

If you haven’t been contacted and have a positive COVID-19 test, you can contact the following agencies:

  • Mercy Blood Donor Services
  • Mississippi Valley Regional Blood Center
  • The American Red Cross