Mayo Clinic studying blood plasma treatment that could help COVID-19 patients

One of the critical needs during this pandemic has been blood. Wednesday, Mayo Clinic says it's already collecting plasma from COVID-19 patients to use as a possible treatment.

At this point, it's in the early stages, but they’re very committed to seeing if this kind of therapy works in treating patients who come down with COVID-19.

Until there’s a vaccine, blood plasma from patients who have already recovered from COVID-19 holds high promise as a treatment.

"So we have collected donors at this point just now," said Dr. Justin Kreuter. "We have not transfused it yet."

Dr. Kreuter works with the Mayo Clinic Blood Center. He says Mayo’s program is in place to find out if blood plasma may work.

"We want to study this and show, is it therapeutically beneficial?" Dr. Kreuter said. "Is it going to be beneficial for patients who are out in the community early in the infection? Or is it really showing to have the best benefit for patients who have the infection in the ICU."

"And although we have our targeted therapies that we are going to start giving this plasma, we are still learning what’s the best way to use this," he added.

Aside from the plasma, there is still a need for blood. Donations dropped when the stay at home orders took place. Donors have stepped up and stepped in for emergency drives such as the Red Cross site this week at the Mall of America.

But blood centers will need more throughout the pandemic.

"But since we’re all dealing and managing this pandemic, all of us are dealing with it on a local community level and very self-reliant now in bringing in an inventory for our patients because people are still getting in traffic accidents," he explained. "Babies are still being born premature, we still have patients that get cancer and need treatment."

To expand the donor base, the FDA just relaxed a number of restrictions affecting patients who have been exposed to HIV, malaria, and Creutzfeld-Jakob disease.

One of the restrictions that they are loosening up on right now is anyone who has had a tattoo. It’s become mainstream in our culture now; a lot of people have them.

The former rules recommended 12 months after you have a tattoo to give blood.

"Now they’re reduced that down to three months," said Dr. Kreuter. "And so you can see how that enables people to come back in much sooner to the blood donor communities. The intention of the FDA is to make so, we are really challenged right now, is there any we can who are scientifically safe to donate eligible to come back in. Because we’re still doing tests for the blood."