Beshear: Coronavirus survivors to be called on if plasma program works

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FRANKFORT, Ky. (WTVQ) – Gov. Andy Beshear is considering asking more coronavirus survivors to donate plasma if research being conducted by Baptist Health Lexington and other medical facilities across the country works.

The procedure involves taking plasma from COVID-19 survivors and giving it to people who have the virus and are critically ill.

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With more people getting the coronavirus, and a vaccine not yet available, doctors around the globe are trying plasma treatments, which have been used successfully during other pandemics – dating back to the Spanish flu outbreak in 1918.

But, doctors at Baptist Health say it’s hard finding potential donors.

“You first off have to have had documented COVID-19 infection and you have to had been symptom-free for at least two weeks,” says Dr. Mark Dougherty.



The doctors say since Kentucky has only felt the effects of the pandemic in the last few weeks, the pool of donors is small.

A total of 228 people in Kentucky who’ve had it have fully recovered, according to the governor.
One of them courageously stepped up to donate.

The hospital fast-tracked the treatment through a first-of-its-kind partnership with the Kentucky Blood Center and quickly got the donated plasma to two critically ill patients.

“I was just astounded by how quickly we got this project up and rolling,” says Dougherty.

Even though Baptist Health Lexington piloted the program in the state, the doctors say with all the planning between different groups, including the health department, they are sure it will expand soon.

But, the doctors caution they don’t know if the procedure works. Their faith is based on similar treatments that were successful during other pandemics.

“We’re hoping it will,” says Dr. Firas Badin. “The science behind it supports it.”

“I guess I can say at this point that we’re cautiously optimistic,” says Dougherty. “There’s been some improvement.”

Baptist Health Lexington says COVID-19 survivors may be contacted to see if they’re willing to donate.