Seeking COVID-19 cure, Manila hospital asks for blood donations from virus survivors

<i>Photo: ABS-CBN News</i>
Photo: ABS-CBN News

The Philippine General Hospital (PGH) today asked persons who recovered from COVID-19 to donate their blood, which will be used for an experimental treatment against the disease.

Patients who successfully recovered “have antibodies in their blood which have fought the virus,” Dr. Jonas del Rosario, PGH’s spokesman told news show 24 Oras in Filipino.

The experimental treatment, which will be given to those severely infected, has been used in China with reportedly “encouraging preliminary results.”

In turn, the World Health Organization has said that the method is a “very valid” approach to test. Dr. Mike Ryan, head of the WHO’s health emergencies program, said that the procedure has been proven “effective and life-saving” against other infectious diseases and is a “very important area to pursue,” Reuters reports.

Del Rosario told ABS-CBN News in a separate interview that PGH’s hematology division is employing the experimental plasma therapy since there is still no known cure for the disease, which has infected more than a million people across the globe.

“What we want to do is to transfuse convalescent plasma of patients who have recovered from COVID-19…because in the past, convalescent plasma taken from a person who has recovered from infection and contain neutralizing antibodies, were found to be helpful in other pandemics,” he said.

“That included the H1N1 influenza virus pandemic, the 2003 SARS-CoV-1 epidemic, and the 2012 MERS-COV epidemic. They used this concept and results were promising with no significant adverse effects,” del Rosario said.

Read: Salute! Over 100 interns at Philippine public hospital stay on duty despite being told to go home

The PGH’s spokesman said however that COVID-19 survivors in the Philippines who consent to give their blood will still need to be tested for the virus again, and will go through strict screening before their blood is drawn.

“[We will] ensure that potential donors are healthy and have recovered from COVID-19. They will pass stringent tests to see if they have no other illnesses and if they are an eligible donor.”

He added that the plasma treatment will only supplement existing medical care in place for virus-infected patients, and only those severely ill will undergo therapy.

“When we say severely ill, they are having respiratory distress. They need oxygen or some of them might even have to be on a ventilator. They have X-ray findings of pneumonia or respiratory distress syndrome,” del Rosario said.

A few weeks ago, PGH urged Metro Manila residents to donate blood after it faced dwindling supplies due to the Luzon-wide lockdown. The hospital promised donors that they will be fetched from their homes by regularly-sanitized vehicles.

COVID-19 survivors can contact PGH at +639178053207 for plasma donations while regular blood donors can contact the hospital’s blood bank at +638554-8400 local 3017 or through this link.



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