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St. Joseph transfuses increasing number of patients with convalescent plasma therapy

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Penn State Health St. Joseph Medical Center has transfused eight COVID-19 positive patients with convalescent plasma therapy in the first two weeks of participating in the experimental treatment program.

“The turnaround time from when we order the plasma until we receive it has been steadily improving,” said Cheryl Gipe, blood bank manager for Penn State Health St. Joseph. “We are hopeful that indicates the supply of convalescent plasma is becoming more readily available as donors are identified.”

Convalescent plasma therapy involves giving patients an infusion of plasma – the liquid portion of the blood – from people who have recovered from an infection with SARS-CoV-2, the virus that causes COVID-19. The plasma contains antibodies that may help patients being treated for COVID-19 recover.

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Convalescent plasma therapy at Penn State Health St. Joseph
Participants must be screened for eligibility prior to donation, be at least 17 years of age, weigh at least 110 pounds, be in good health and have a verified prior diagnosis of COVID-19.

Access to this treatment is available through an expanded access program led by Mayo Clinic and coordinated by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration. Patients at both St. Joseph Medical Center and Penn State Health Milton S. Hershey Medical Center are screened for eligibility by their physician to receive this experimental treatment.

“As part of a university-affiliated health system, St. Joseph Medical Center’s connection to Hershey Medical Center allows us to be able to bring treatments like this to the Berks market faster than if we were an independent hospital,” said Dr. Jeffrey Held, vice president for medical affairs at Penn State Health St. Joseph.

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