Kentucky Hospitals Researching How COVID-19 Survivors Can Help Sick Patients

May 7, 2020

Dr. Natalie Harper is leading a study at Hardin Memorial Health on the role of convalescent plasma in combating the coronavirus.
Credit Hardin Memorial Health

A landmark study on combatting the coronavirus is happening at hospitals across the country, including in Kentucky. 

Hardin Memorial Health in Elizabethtown is treating COVID-19 patients with plasma donated from patients who have recovered from the respiratory illness.  The  recovered patients have developed antibodies, which researchers think can more quickly fight the infection in sick patients. 

Dr. Natalie Harper is leading the study at HMH.

"Of course this is still a research project and we don’t know how well this treatment will work, but we are very hopeful, and many physicians involved in the research are very optimistic about the results," Harper told WKU Public Radio.

HMH is one of 2,146 hospitals across the U.S. taking part in the research with the Mayo Clinic.  The treatment has shown promise in smaller studies around the world.

Norton Healthcare in Louisville has also been using convalescent plasma to treat critically ill coronavirus patients.  A news release from the hospital says 21 patients have received donated plasma in the last three weeks, and six of those have recovered enough to be discharged from the hospital. 

Hardin Memorial Health currently has eight patients enrolled in the study, and participation in the experimental therapy is voluntary.  Recovered COVID-19 patients are eligible to donate plasma if they have been well for 14 days and meet the criteria for giving blood.  Each person who donates plasma can help up to four patients currently battling the coronavirus.

To donate, recovered COVID-19 patients are encouraged to visit www.redcrossblood.org to learn more.