Hospital Physician Becomes First at Versiti Blood Center of Wisconsin to Donate Plasma to Help COVID-19 Patients

Hospital Physician Becomes First at Versiti Blood Center of Wisconsin to Donate Plasma to Help COVID-19 Patients

April 07, 2020

Children’s Wisconsin Physician donates to Versiti Convalescent Plasma Program


As coronavirus cases continue to spread across the state, Versiti Blood Center of Wisconsin has collected its first convalescent plasma donation in an effort to help treat COVID-19 patients.

Dave Lal, M.D., pediatric oncologist at Children’s Hospital Wisconsin, and professor of pediatric surgery at The Medical College of Wisconsin, was the first to donate as part of Versiti’s convalescent plasma program.  Dr. Lal donated at Versiti’s downtown Milwaukee donor center.

 “I have a unique opportunity to help others,” said Dr. Lal. “Even in my own community, I know people who are really struggling and who are critically sick. So if I can help any one of those people, it would give me much joy.”

Lal tested positive for coronavirus in March and suffered mild symptoms such as fatigue and muscle aches. He was tested for COVID-19 after learning that he was exposed to someone who had tested positive. Following hospital practices and CDC guidelines, he immediately stopped working and quarantined at home. According to Children’s, more than 100 employees and patients were tested as a result of Dr. Lal’s case. All results were negative.

The plasma donations will be provided to hospitals participating in Versiti’s convalescent plasma program. One plasma donation can be used to treat multiple patients.

Individuals who have contracted COVID-19and have fully recovered have developed antibodies to the virus, These antibodies may help patients seriously ill with COVID-19 in their recovery.

Potential donors must first be proven to have had a COVID-19 diagnosis through a positive lab test result, and must then have a negative test result 14 days after recovering from symptoms,” said Versiti Senior Medical Director Dan A. Waxman, M.D. “It’s a very collaborative effort with our hospital partners who will be working to identify and verify the donors.”  

The plasma treatment – approved by the FDA as an Emergency Investigational New Drug (EIND) – could offer hope to the hundreds of patients who continue to be diagnosed. This treatment would be used by hospitals for the most severely affected patients.

“Many of our hospital partners have already requested the donations,” said Dr. Waxman. “They are anxious to begin the program.”

Individuals who have contracted COVID-19 and have fully recovered have developed antibodies to the virus. These antibodies may help patients seriously ill with COVID-19 in their recovery.

The plasma donation process takes 30-40 minutes and is the same as with other plasma donations, using an apheresis machine which separates the blood components.

Versiti Blood Center of Wisconsin is a not-for-profit organization headquartered in Milwaukee that specializes in blood services, esoteric diagnostic testing, organ, tissue and stem cell donation, medical services and leading-edge research.  We advance patient care by delivering life-saving solutions grounded in unparalleled medical and scientific expertise.  The collective efforts of Versiti affiliates result in improved patient outcomes, expanded access to care, and cost efficiencies for healthcare systems nationwide.  For more information, visit Versiti.org/Wisconsin.

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