UW Hospital to treat COVID-19 patients with survivor blood starting next week

By David Wahlberg, Wisconsin State Journal

By early next week, proteins from the blood of people who have recovered from COVID-19 could be helping patients at UW Hospital fight their infections.

Using a technique more than a century old, doctors plan to transfuse antibodies from the plasma of people who fought off the new coronavirus into patients struggling with serious complications.

“We know that antibody has neutralized the virus in one person,” said Dr. William Hartman, a UW Health anesthesiologist heading up the effort at UW Hospital, which is part of a national study. “We assume that the antibody will neutralize the virus in another person. It’s an extra boost to help fight off the infection.”

The concept, called convalescent plasma, dates to at least 1900, when it was used to treat diphtheria, Hartman said. Antibodies from recovered patients have also been used through the years to fight influenza, Ebola and other coronaviruses known as SARS and MERS.

With no approved treatment for COVID-19 and more than 75,000 deaths around the world, including more than 11,000 in the U.S. and at least 77 in Wisconsin, the unproven approach offers some hope against the new coronavirus. Read more …