Plasma proves a lifesaver for most

Top News | Carine Chow 27 Oct 2020

Sixty percent of critically ill Covid-19 patients recovered after receiving convalescent plasma at Queen Mary Hospital but 11 died, a doctor said.

So far, 50 patients have received the treatment, among whom 30 have recovered or are now in stable condition.

Seventeen out of the 30 have already been discharged but nine patients remain in critical condition and another 11 died - making for a death rate of 22 percent.

Convalescent plasma therapy uses blood donated by recovered Covid-19 patients to treat critical patients at the hospital's intensive care unit and who are on ventilators.

The antibodies in plasma can boost the ability to combat the virus, lessen the severity and shorten the length of the disease of significantly ill patients, said Professor Ivan Hung Fan-ngai, honorary consultant at the hospital.

The hospital teamed up with the Hong Kong Red Cross Blood Transfusion Service in providing the treatment.

Hung said the mortality rate of patients receiving the blood plasma treatment was half of those who received steroids - at 41 percent, citing a study from the University of Oxford.

In one case, a 67-year-old woman received chemotherapy for lymph gland tumor before her coronavirus infection. Her condition was no better after using the standard treatments, with around 80 percent of her lungs suffering from pneumonia and having a cycle threshold value of 10 billion of viral load.

Around four days after the first plasma infusion, her condition was significantly better as the CT value fell to 10 million of viral load. When injected a second time, her CT value turned negative and she was able to breathe on her own. She was discharged a week later.

Hung said the treatment might not be as effective for the elderly as the 11 patients who died were mostly over 75 and had chronic illness.

Fifty recovered patients have donated their blood plasma, with a median age of 45 years.

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