Albany Medical Center is helping lead the charge against the COVID-19 pandemic. As part of Governor Cuomo’s “systematized,” statewide hospital network, which he’s created to fight off the spread of the virus, more downstate COVID-19 patients are being treated up here in the Capital Region. To that point, on April 9, the hospital announced that it had become one of the first hospitals in the country to gain US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) approval for an experimental COVID-19 therapy that involves using the plasma from survivors of the disease to treat critically ill patients.
“As the region’s only academic medical center, Albany Med participates in many cutting-edge clinical research trials,” says Dr. Dennis McKenna, Albany Med’s president and CEO. “We’re honored to have the ability to administer this experimental therapy as we fight this global pandemic and hope that it can provide the life-saving treatment these patients inflicted with COVID-19 so desperately need.”
The treatment is called “convalescent plasma therapy,” and it uses the antibodies built up in the blood from a person who’s recovered from COVID-19 to attack the virus in someone who’s currently battling the disease. Though newly approved, treatments like this have existed for some time. Convalescent plasma therapy was used during the deadly 1918 flu pandemic that claimed at least 50 million lives globally. Though COVID-19’s mortality rate hasn’t been that high, the deadly disease has shown some similarities to the 1918 flu pandemic.
Albany Med has already received its first donation, from one of its own employees, and has treated its first patient with the therapy. Right now, the local hospital is seeking more plasma donors who’ve had COVID-19 and recovered. Those wishing to donate must be completely recovered from the disease and not have exhibited any symptoms for the last 14 days. All potential donors will be retested to make sure that COVID-19 is not still in their systems. To determine eligibility for a plasma donation, you can call 518-262-9340.