People who beat COVID-19 may have antibodies that could save lives

NOW: People who beat COVID-19 may have antibodies that could save lives


MILWAUKEE COUNTY, Wis. (CBS 58)- People who have recovered from COVID-19 have something doctors desire, antibodies in their plasma. Those antibodies could help critically ill coronavirus patients.

Versiti Blood Center in Wauwatosa launched a special hotline number, they are looking for people who can donate plasma after beating COVID-19 to use as an experimental treatment for coronavirus patients.

Neil Panosian of West Allis tested positive for the coronavirus mid-March, but is no longer showing symptoms.

“You wait for three more days after that and if you still don’t have any symptoms in those three days then you’re considered good to go,” said Panosian.

After hearing about the need for plasma, it was a no-brainer, Panosian called his doctor immediately to donate.

Doctors say one plasma donation could help up to three people.

“If I don’t do that, in my opinion, and I don’t use what I have to help two people, then that’s almost being very selfish,” adds Panosian.

“After the donation, we work with the hospital then to have them give to the patients that seem the sickest and need them,” said Dr. Thomas Abshire, Chief Medical Officer of Versiti Blood Center.

Doctors say Panosian won’t be able to donate plasma just yet. He’s got to be symptom free for at least two weeks and test negative for COVID-19, or wait 28 days and do a blood test to determine if he has coronavirus antibodies.

Plasma infusions were first used more than a century ago during the Spanish Flu pandemic.

“In two past coronavirus infections and one influenza infection it’s been utilized and shown to have some possible efficacy,” adds Dr. Abshire.

Dr. Dave Lal with Children’s Wisconsin did make the cut for plasma donation after testing positive for coronavirus in early March.

“In a disease where there’s no vaccine and no perfect treatment for it, this novel experimental therapy could be helpful,” said Dr. Lal, a pediatric surgeon.

The Wisconsin Department of Health says there’s no accurate number as to how many people have recovered in the state, but doctors say they haven’t heard of a patient getting reinfected yet.

“I have immunity, but the duration of which, no one really knows,” added Dr. Lal.

“Presumably if you’ve had the infection to SARS-CoV-2 and you make antibodies to it, you shouldn’t get that particular infection again,” said Dr. Abshire.

SARS-CoV-2 is the virus that causes the COVID-19 disease.

Panosian and Dr. Lal both say donating plasma is a great way for the community to help each other through a tough time.  

“I can not only help them make it through it, but certainly would help their family,” said Panosian.

“I just felt so fortunate to be able to hopefully help other patients who weren’t as lucky as me,” added Dr. Lal.

Dr. Abshire says so far only two in Wisconsin have donated and the plasma has already been used in one hospital.

If you or someone you know have recovered from the coronavirus and want to donate plasma call 1-866-702-HOPE (866-702-4673) or click here.

Share this article: