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Valley residents with antibodies to COVID-19 have potential to save lives

Rio Grande Valley residents who have developed antibodies to COVID-19 have the potential to save lives of seriously-ill hospital patients who are suffering from that infectious and dangerous disease, according to Sohail Rao, MD, MA, DPHIL, President and CEO for DHR Health Institute for Research and Development. “When the COVID pandemic hit the nation (in March 2020), we started a process of creating some therapeutic options for our patients and our physicians,” said Rao. “At that time, and still, the only therapeutic tool that is available to treat COVID-19 infection is transfusing (convalescent) plasma to these patients.” Plasma is the liquid portion of the blood. Convalescent plasma Convalescent plasma (kon-vuh-LES-unt PLAZmuh) therapy is an experimental treatment that some doctors are using for people with severe coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19). No drug has been proved to be safe and effective for treating COVID-19. The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) hasn’t approved any drugs specifically to treat people with COVID-19. As the pandemic has begun to affect more individuals in deep South Texas, Rao continues his public call for qualified volunteers, through their donation of convalescent plasma containing antibodies to COVID-19, to become heroes in the battle against the virus. “You have your community members, your friends, your family who are in ICU (Intensive Care Unit) and who are struggling to recover. They need help. The only help we can provide to them in terms of therapy is convalescent plasma,” said Rao. “They need some passive boosting of their immune system. If that is not enough of a motivation for you to donate after you have recovered, and God has been so kind with you, then I don’t know what additional motivation I can provide.” People who recover from COVID-19 do so, at least in part, because their blood contains substances called antibodies, which are capable of fighting the virus that causes the illness. It turns out that for some other diseases caused by viruses, giving people the liquid portion of blood (plasma), obtained from those who have recovered from the virus, leads to more rapid improvement of the disease. Patients with COVID-19 may improve faster if they receive plasma from those who have recovered from COVID-19, because it may have the ability to fight the virus that causes COVID-19. As of late June 2020, DHR Health and other major hospital systems in the Rio Grande Valley had treated more than 80 patients using convalescent plasma therapy, and ...

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