If you’ve contracted COVID-19 and have recovered from it, Northside Hospital needs your help.
With the number of individuals being hospitalized for the coronavirus in Georgia at record highs, the hospital’s five locations, including Sandy Springs, needs convalescent plasma donors to help patients fighting COVID today, a news release stated.
According to the Georgia Department of Public Health’s website, 12,065 hospital inpatient beds are in use, which is 80.2% of capacity, and 2,571 ICU beds are in use, which is 87.1% of capacity. Dec. 17, the state went over the 13,000 mark in hospital inpatient beds in use for the first time this year.
Northside spokeswoman Katherine Watson said the hospital system has projects ongoing at all five of its hospitals to add more beds.
“We are licensed currently for 1,882 beds, but not all are built/staffed,” she said. “We have 621 beds at the (Sandy Springs) campus. The Northside system has seen a 339% increase in total COVID-19 patients over the last two months. Currently, COVID-19 patients comprise 40% of our overall patient population. These numbers hold true for each of our campuses as well.”
Northside and Atlanta Blood Services are recruiting recovered COVID-19 patients to participate in an investigational program that involves the collection of “convalescent” plasma for the treatment of certain patients who have been diagnosed with the virus.
It is presumed that patients who have fully recovered from COVID-19 have antibodies in their plasma that can attack the virus. Individuals who have had a diagnosis of COVID-19 or a positive antibody test, have been asymptomatic for at least 14 days and have a negative test may be eligible to donate plasma.
“We’re committed to collecting as much plasma as we need to help the people throughout the country,” Dr. H. Kent Holland, medical director of the Northside Blood and Marrow Transplant Program and the Atlanta Blood Services apheresis collection facility, said in the release.
Since the spring, shortly after the pandemic started, Northside has had a Phase II study that examines historical data as a benchmark and will use that benchmark to compare any benefits of convalescent plasma. A subgroup of the trial also looks at health care workers who have been exposed to the coronavirus to see if convalescent plasma reduces the chance of severe infections.
“We’ve been using convalescent plasma for over 100 years; it was used the Spanish flu, polio, measles, H1NI, Ebola and SARS,” Holland said. “There’s a lot of information about doing this and it’s very well understood. There’s a lot of work still to be done to show if this will work, but historically it does.”
Watson said since it first launched the convalescent plasma program, Atlanta Blood Services has collected more than 1,700 units of plasma from 563 donors. While Northside has managed to maintain a supply of plasma to treat all patients who need it, it currently has a waiting list for plasma.
Qualified plasma donors must meet the following criteria: be healthy, be over age 18, have previously tested positive for COVID-19 or had a positive COVID-19 antibody test, have been symptom-free for at least 14 days and have been successfully screened as a blood donor per FDA blood donation guidelines.
For more information about donating plasma or to schedule an appointment, call 404-477-1299 or visit atlantabloodservices.com.