DALLAS (CBSDFW.COM) – When Covid-19 came to Dallas, Dr. Gary Weinstein and his wife, Dr. Donna Casey, realized they would have to get creative to cure some of their most critically ill patients.
“We were sitting around on the porch saying, ‘What do we do? Because we’ve got people on life support that are not coming off like they normally should. What are the other options?'” said Dr. Casey, who specializes in Internal Medicine.
Dr. Weinstein, the chief of Critical Care Medicine at Texas Health Presbyterian Hospital Dallas, had relied on convalescent plasma when he treated Ebola patients in 2014. That’s when the antibody-rich blood from recovered patients is transfused into current ones.
“The idea was there, and we knew that it should be beneficial in a novel disease like this. It just had not been used in Dallas yet,” he said.
But time was running out for one of his patients, a man who had been on a ventilator for four weeks.
The FDA granted emergency approval, and the search for a donor began.
“We kind of pulled out the stops,” said Dr. Casey. “We started calling people. They’re like, ‘Are you really calling me, Donna Casey, asking me for my blood?’”
“We tried to find patients who had recovered and who had antibodies who could potentially donate plasma to our patients who were sick and in the ICU,” said Dr. Weinstein.
They found a match, and the patient recovered within days. They’ve since used convalescent plasma on around 10 more patients.
Lessons from Ebola that may be saving lives during the Covid-19 pandemic.
“Having had prior experience and looking back at the literature of diseases like this made us a little more comfortable in doing that,” said Dr. Weinstein.
More than 6,000 Covid-19 patients have received convalescent plasma from around the country.
Doctors are encouraging anyone who can to donate. You do have to be symptom-free of Covid-19 for 28 days.