By Rehanna Ramsay
Three patients infected with the COVID-19 disease have successfully recovered following treatment of the convalescent plasma from survivors.
Dr. Mahendra Carpen, who has been actively involved in the treatment of COVID -19 patients at Georgetown Public Hospital Corporation (GPHC), explained that the convalescent plasma was initially administered to four patients –all of whom were in critical condition.
He said that first patient did not respond favourably to the treatment, but the other three made full recoveries following the transfusion.
According to him, the plasma is only administered to patients who are in “extremely critical condition.”
The doctor explained that the first patient did not respond favourably to the treatment because of other medical complications. He said however that the latter three patients made full recovery with no complications.
He noted that the convalescent plasma is by no means a substitute for full treatment; rather it is a supplement to the other medications used to treat COVID-19 patients: “What happens is that patients are given the treatment along with the oxygen, vitamins, hydroxychloroquine and other types of medications administered to COVID-19 patients.”
Part of standard procedure for the plasma transfusion, Dr. Carpen said involves counseling.
“We usually consult and counsel the relatives of those patients we deem necessary for the transfusion,” he told Kaieteur News, adding that it is part also of the procedure to encourage survivors to make voluntary donations to help other patients suffering from the disease.
The convalescent plasma is collected from a recovered COVID- 19 patient that contains the antibodies against the virus and then used to treat critical patients who are suffering from the infection with the intention for it to fight the same viral infection.
The plasma is obtained from the donor through aphaeresis, a process in which whole blood is removed from the donor via the veins and passed through a machine where the blood is separated by filtration or centrifuge into components such as platelets, plasma, leukocytes, lymphocytes and red blood cells.
After separation, the desired blood component, in this case plasma, is removed and the remainder of the blood is re-infused back to the patient.
The process takes a couple of hours. This form of treatment dates back centuries and was used during the Spanish Flu pandemic of 1918, in an era before modern vaccines and antiviral drugs.
Some experts have argued that it might be the best hope for combating the coronavirus until more sophisticated therapies can be developed, which could take longer.
Plasma treatment has been successfully used for critical COVID-19 patients in the United States and other parts of the world. Thus far, over 600 patients in the U.S. have been given the treatment, all of whom have recovered.
Guyana’s introduction to the use of convalescent plasma to treat COVID- 19 patients commenced last April after the Ministry of Public Health (MoPH) obtained approval from the Pan-American Health Organization World Health Organisation(PAHO/WHO) to administer the treatment to patients here.
Since then, the National Blood Transfusion Service has been collecting convalescent plasma from recovered patients for treatment to be conducted via GPHC—the only authorised health institution to conduct the plasma transfusions.
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