Dartmouth-Hitchcock Medical Center (DHMC) is evaluating the use of plasma rich in antibodies as a COVID-19 treatment. Supported by federal government agencies including the Federal Drug Administration and the Biomedical Advanced Research and Development Authority (BARDA), and with the Mayo Clinic serving as the Institutional Review Board, the DHMC program is making plasma collection, processing and access to treatment easier for patients throughout northern New England.

“Treatments with convalescent plasma, or plasma from patients who have recovered from a disease, date back to the Spanish Flu of 1918,” said Zbigniew Szczepiorkowski, MD, PhD, who, along with Richard Zuckerman, MD, MPH, serves as the project’s principal investigator.    “Reports suggest that treatment using convalescent plasma, which likely contains SARS-CoV-2 antibodies, could be a viable and safe option that may alter the course of COVID-19 in patients with severe disease and few alternatives,” said Zuckerman.  

Studies cited by the protocol for “Expanded Access to Convalescent Plasma for the Treatment of Patients with COVID-19” at the Mayo Clinic, have indicated that recovery from COVID-19 might be faster with convalescent plasma treatment. Initial data indicates that patients with severe disease improve after just a single 200 ml dose. While promising, and one of the only treatments currently available, more study is needed.  

DHMC is leveraging its Transfusion Medicine Service and altruistic patient population to provide convalescent plasma treatment and to contribute to national research. After acceptance for participation in the program, COVID-19 survivors will have blood drawn in the Dartmouth-Hitchcock Blood Donor Program, located on the DHMC campus in Lebanon, NH. A single blood draw can provide plasma for up to two patients, as well as samples for research, including the development of a test at DHMC to measure COVID-19 antibody levels. This test can then be used to evaluate immune status and exposure history.  

Individuals who have recovered from COVID-19 and are over 18 years of age, and are interested in being evaluated for donation should call 603-653-3775 or email DHMC.Blood.Program@hitchcock.org and be prepared to provide the date of their last symptoms. Donors who have confirmed COVID-19 testing or a presumptive diagnosis of COVID-19 from a physician will be eligible to donate after they have been symptom free for at least 28 days.

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