Saint Joseph Mercy Health System has treated its first hospitalized COVID-19 patient at St. Joseph Mercy Ann Arbor hospital with plasma donated by a person who has recovered from COVID-19, as part of the Mayo Clinic Coordinated Expanded Access to Convalescent Plasma Program.
Eleven St. Joe’s patients were among the first 200 nationally to be registered for the trial that will include more than 1,000 hospitals across the country. Four member hospitals of the health system, St. Joseph Mercy Ann Arbor, St. Joseph Mercy Oakland, St. Mary Mercy Livonia, and Mercy Health Muskegon, are participating in the program.
“Early participation in this program is due in part to our robust oncology research program, which gave us the ability to quickly develop our plasma program to respond in the hopes of helping to bring forward a treatment for COVID-19 as soon as possible,” said Anurag Malani, M.D., medical director, Infection Prevention and Control, Saint Joseph Mercy Health System, who serves as Principal Investigator. “Our focus now is to spread the word to those who have had COVID to donate their plasma for use in this program.”
Those who recover from COVID-19 do so, in part, because their blood likely contains antibodies, which are capable of fighting the virus that causes the illness. It is known that in some other diseases caused by viruses, giving people the liquid portion of blood (plasma), obtained from those who have recovered from the virus, leads to more rapid improvement of the disease. Patients with COVID-19 may improve faster if they receive plasma from those who have recovered from COVID-19.
In order to be eligible to receive this treatment patients must be hospitalized and have severe or life-threatening COVID, or be at risk of developing severe disease. All patients, or their legally authorized representative, must consent to the program.
An Expanded Access Program (EAP) is the mechanism by which access to certain investigational new drugs/treatments (IND) are made available outside of clinical trials. The focus of an EAP is to provide treatment, whereas a clinical trial is focused on research.
Initial data available from studies using COVID-19 convalescent plasma for the treatment of individuals with severe or life-threatening disease indicate that a single infusion of plasma showed benefit for some patients. It is not known if this treatment will or will not help those with COVID-19 or if it will have any harmful effects, but this is one of the only treatments that we have at present. This program will help researchers collect important information on the patients who received the treatment.
Those who have recovered from COVID (28 days symptom free) are encouraged to register online at www.RedCross.org, and click on “learn more” in the Convalescent Plasma section.
In addition to the Mayo Clinic Coordinated Expanded Access to Convalescent Plasma program, St Joe’s Ann Arbor is one of only two sites in the state to participate in Gilead’s Remdesivir Expanded Access Program. Remdesivir is an experimental antiviral drug, identified by the World Health Organization as one of the most promising treatments in treating COVID-19 positive patients. Only patients with the most severe cases of COVID requiring ventilator support are eligible for this program. St Joe’s has registered 16 patients to the trial to date.
About Trinity Health Michigan
Trinity Health Michigan is a leading health care provider and one of the state’s largest employers. With more than 24,000 full-time employees serving numerous counties, Trinity Health Michigan is composed of eight hospitals, including the five hospitals of Saint Joseph Mercy Health System located in Ann Arbor, Chelsea, Howell, Livonia and Pontiac, and the three-hospital Mercy Health, operating in Grand Rapids and Muskegon. The health system has 2,348 beds and 3,400 physicians. With operating revenues of $3.4 billion, Trinity Health Michigan returns $195 million back to their local communities each year. Together with numerous ambulatory care locations, three home health agencies, one hospice agency and 17 senior living communities owned and/or operated by Trinity Health, Trinity Health Michigan provides the full continuum of care for Michigan residents.