|Giving blood plasma to a COVID-19 patient from a person who has healed from it might help the sick person get better faster.
Student Nguyen Thi Yen returned from the UK in March and tested positive for the coronavirus. Yen was treated in Vietnam and declared free of the virus in early April. A shy girl who cried every time her blood was taken, Yen was among the first who came to the National Hospital for Tropical Diseases to donate her plasma to help treat active cases in Vietnam. Yen told VOV: "Since Vietnam is having another Covid-19 outbreak and several deaths have been recorded, I want to contribute to Vietnam’s efforts to contain the epidemic. I would be very happy if my plasmas could save lives."
Kelly Michelle Koch, 50, flew to Hanoi from Ho Chi Minh City last week to donate her plasma in hopes that she might be able to help save other COVID-19 patients in Vietnam. Koch is an American citizen who has spent the past several years living in the city. In March 2020, after returning to Vietnam from a trip to Thailand, she tested positive for the novel coronavirus and was named the country’s 83rd COVID-19 patient. Koch received treatment at a makeshift hospital for coronavirus patients in the southern metropolis and was declared virus-free on April 4. She chose to stay in Vietnam following her recovery.
Now, in the midst of Vietnam’s new wave of community-based cases, the National Hospital for Tropical Diseases is urging recovered COVID-19 patients to donate their plasma in order to help treat current active cases. Koch is not only one of the 17 fully recovered COVID-19 patients in Vietnam who have registered for the program, but she is the first foreigner to do so.
“I registered for the program as soon as I heard about it. I hope I can help other people and support Vietnam’s efforts to contain the pandemic,” said Kelly.
|The plasma of recovered patients contains antibodies that help fight off SARS-CoV-2.
Patient No 196, a medical worker who wants to donate plasma since she recovered, also registered right after she heard about the program. Ha Thu Thao told VOV: “I just want to do something to help Covid-19 patients recover and soon be able to return to their families. I received great care from many doctors, nurses, and health workers when I was sick and now I want to pay it forward.”
Dr Vũ Thị Thu Hương, head of the Department of Health Examination of the National Hospital for Tropical Diseases, said the convalescent plasma therapy for COVID-19 patients has been applied in many countries worldwide. Plasma is considered a safe and effective treatment solution for patients with COVID-19, especially those in critical conditions. “The plasma of recovered patients contains antibodies that help fight off SARS-CoV-2 When it is injected into the body of critically-ill patients (with a high viral load), the antibodies will take effect. The extracted plasma samples are stored at minus 18-25 degrees Celsius, will be used within 12 months and can be transported far distances in the minus temperature condition," said Huong.
A dozen volunteers had registered to donate their plasma in a process similar to giving blood. The first batch of collected plasma will be allocated to patients in Da Nang City, now Vietnam’s biggest Covid-19 hotspot.