LEXINGTON, Ky. (LEX 18) — The race to find a cure for the novel coronavirus is fast and furious involving scientists, doctors and the community.
Baptist Health in Lexington is one of hundreds of hospitals across the country partnered with Mayo Clinic doing research on using plasma from recovered COVID-19 patients to help coronavirus patients make it to the other side.
Baptist Health Infectious Disease Specialist Dr. Mark Dougherty explained they have worked on this project for months.
"When we first started doing the convalescent plasma, the FDA had just issued a protocol. And we were, we were one of the first hospitals in the country to jump on the protocol and and give it to a couple of patients on the last weekend in March," said Dr. Dougherty. "We did that essentially on our own through permission from the FDA and then pass it to our own investigation Review Board. And then we realized that we really probably needed to be part of a bigger national efforts in that topless and plasma."
He said that plasma has been instrumental in helping COVID patients and they have issued it to about 40 patients so far. But, he explained he fears their supply may run out.
"Last weekend when I, when I was on call we used at least four of those up in one day. And so I started getting a little concerned that if we had another wave of issues when we have another way we might run out fairly quickly so we've been calling some of the original donors that come back in and we do need other people to come in and donate their plasma. We need a bigger reserve than we have right now," said Dr. Dougherty.
In order to donate, the Kentucky Blood Center requires you register online on their website.
Dr. Dougherty explained he has been amazed how the medical community has banded together to work on solving this virus,"We've had both unity and in the City of Lexington where we worked the Baptist systems work with it. With the St. Joe system and UK both at administrative level. Infections, these doctors have worked together and work together terms of sharing experiences and education. We've organized the statewide infectious disease Zoom video conference every Sunday where we basically get all the infectious disease doctors in the whole state and get speakers their educational speakers. So, I think we've had a really unique response to this, both on a local level in the in the individual hospitals in the city as a community of hospitals and community of hospital systems on the state level and then on the federal level."
He also said the opportunity to help other patients is unlike anything he has seen in his decades of experience.
"There's a lot of things that we can do as a community, and I think it's really a unique experience for people to be able to contribute their own immunity their own plasma I can't really think of any other time we've done anything exactly like this you know we. I've been an infectious disease doctor for 32 years went through the AIDS epidemic. There was nothing like that in the AIDS epidemic. We, you know, had a massive push for research for antivirals which was ultimately successful, but there was nothing like this where an individual person who's had the infection can go and directly help someone else."