Baylor College of Medicine

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Coronavirus Preparedness

Baylor, Blood Center join focus on COVID-19 transfusion study

Lori Williams


Houston, TX -

Baylor College of Medicine and the Gulf Coast Regional Blood Center have teamed up to procure COVID-19 Convalescent Plasma from appropriate donors and provide it to the most critically ill patients with COVID-19 infection as part of a transfusion study. The process involves blood plasma transfusion from recovered coronavirus patients to those who are struggling to survive the disease.

To be eligible to participate with Baylor College of Medicine’s transfusion study:

  • COVID-19 convalescent plasma must only be collected from recovered individuals if they are eligible to donate blood.
  • Individuals must have had a prior diagnosis of COVID-19 documented by a laboratory test.
  • Individuals must have fully recovered from COVID-19, with complete resolution of symptoms for at least 14 days before donation of convalescent plasma.
  • Baylor College of Medicine will provide a second test after at least 14 days of recovery if one has not been done.
  • Potential donors would complete Baylor’s online questionnaire to assess eligibility.

When a donor has been approved, Baylor College of Medicine will turn the donor’s information over to Gulf Coast Regional Blood Center, which will then work to schedule the donation. Gulf Coast Regional Blood Center would collect the donor’s blood and the receiving hospital would transfuse it.

Similar blood transfusions have been done in Houston on an Emergency IND (Investigational New Drug) application from the FDA. Houston Methodist has reported doing several of these, and Baylor St. Luke’s Medical Center also has performed several under the Emergency IND, which must be secured separately for treatment of each patient.

The new process would be done with an IRB protocol under an Expanded Access program, which will make it easier for the donors and recipients to be organized. Gulf Coast Regional Blood Center is integral to this study partnership with their plasma collection expertise.

“Our intention is to provide an option for the most seriously ill COVID-19 patients,” said Dr. Ashok Balasubramanyam, vice president for academic integration and senior associate dean for academic affairs at Baylor College of Medicine. “This effort would help patients in Houston, and aggregation of data would provide a much better look at whether this therapy is working and what adjustments could be made.”

Dr. Meredith Reyes, associate professor of pathology and medical director of the transfusion service at Baylor St. Luke’s, is eager to get started under a new system of matching donors.

“I am very excited to be working on this project which is providing a valuable resource for the entire Houston community, she said. “People who have recovered from COVID-19 are anxious for a way to help others affected, and donation provides them such an opportunity. I am thrilled to be connecting these donors to patients in need.”

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