Davao hospital prepares for plasma therapy

Subscribe Now April 21, 2020 at 10:01am

As 56 patients from the entire Davao region recover from the new coronavirus disease (COVID-19), the Southern Philippines Medical Center (SPMC) here eyes “convalescent plasma therapy” to boost the survival rate of patients still in the thick of battle against the disease, a top hospital official said.

Dr. Leopoldo Vega, chief of hospital at the SPMC, said in a virtual press conference here that the hospital has the equipment and the expertise to perform the therapy and was only awaiting the guidelines from the hospital’s hematology section to perform it.

“We have the machine for it, we can do it in a blood bank facility wherein they separate the plasma from the blood of [a] convalescent patient to give to patients [still fighting the SARS-CoV-2 virus],” he said.

Vega said the hospital had been discussing the plan since the previous week to finalize the hospital guidelines for convalescent plasma therapy.

Convalescent plasma therapy, which involves taking the antibodies from the blood of a person who has recovered from the virus and transfusing it into the blood of virus patients, offers a new hope for patients fighting the COVID-19 disease.

An article published in The Lancet medical journal in February this year showed how convalescent plasma had been used as a last resort to improve the survival rate of patients with SARS (Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome) whose condition continue to deteriorate during the 2002-2003 outbreak. The World Health Organization also recommended it as an empirical treatment during the Ebola outbreak, the article cited.

In Metro Manila, some hospitals already conducted initial tests to prove whether or not the therapy works.

Of the 99 persons who tested positive of COVID-19 in the Davao region, 56 have recovered, according to the Department of Health report as of April 18.
Anecdotal reports

Some COVID-19 survivors in Metro Manila already donated blood plasma to certain hospitals but there was no report yet whether one of the 56 COVID-19 patients reported to have recovered in the region would be donating their blood plasma.

Aside from convalescent plasma therapy, SPMC is also looking at conducting hyperbaric methods to treat their patients, Vega said.

“There are reports, especially anecdotal [reports] coming from a hospital in New York, wherein medical doctors are using hyperbaric treatment for moderate and selected patients for COVID-19 patients and we are looking at the possibility of using it,” he said, adding that a new hyperbaric section had recently been set up at the SPMC.

According to Johns Hopkins’ Medicine website, hyperbaric oxygen therapy is a type of treatment used to speed up healing not only for carbon monoxide poisoning, gangrene, stubborn wounds, but also for infections in which tissues have been starved for oxygen.”

“We can see whether these moderate patients no longer need intubation. The kind of challenges that we’re facing is we’re looking for modalities to make sure that we are able to serve our patients well,” he added.

Of the 99 COVID-19 patients in the region, Davao City reported the highest number with 83 cases.

At least 26 of the total number of cases in the region had exposure to the New Davao Matina Galleria cockfighting derby on March 6 to March 13, which brought about a cluster of cases here and other areas in Mindanao and Luzon.

Source: inquirer.net

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