Mayo Clinic finds convalescent transfusions safe

June 22, 2020
convalescent plasma donor

Researchers at the Mayo Clinic and collaborators have found the use of convalescent plasma to be safe and possibly effective as a treatment for patients with COVID-19.

The South Texas Blood & Tissue Center is taking donations of convalescent plasma from recovered COVID-19 patients whose immune systems have developed antibodies to the virus. The plasma is then transfused to the sickest COVID-19 patients.

The Mayo Clinic safety report followed a group of 20,000 patients for seven days following their transfusions and found that death rates declined to 8.6%, from 12% in a safety study conducted earlier this year. Less than 1% of patients experienced serious adverse events from their transfusions.

The report, summarized in a news release from the Mayo Clinic, noted that the decline in the mortality rate alone does not provide evidence of the effectiveness of convalescent plasma in treating COVID-19. Additional research is underway to evaluate it as a therapy for COVID-19.

“Our efforts to understand convalescent plasma continue,” said Michael Joyner MD, principal investigator of the EAP at Mayo Clinic and lead author of the article summarizing the study. “We’re optimistic but must remain objective as we assess increasing amounts of data.”

DeLisa Fairweather, a researcher with the Mayo Clinic, praised the more than 7,000 physicians taking part in the convalescent plasma program. Nearly 40% of the patients in the latest safety report were women, while nearly 35% were Hispanic, 20% were African-American and 5% were of Asian descent.