Mercy Joins National Plasma Program to Treat COVID-19

YOUNGSTOWN, Ohio – Mercy Health has joined the Food and Drug Administration’s convalescent plasma program. 

Medical systems participating in the program can collect plasma from those who have been diagnosed with and recovered from COVID-19, then administer it to current patients. The process has been used over the past century to treat polio, measles, hepatitis B, influenza and Ebola, among others.

“In our ongoing effort to care for our communities, Mercy Health is facilitating access to investigational convalescent plasma through participation in the National Expanded Access Treatment Protocol,” said Dr. James Kravec, chief clinical officer for Mercy Health-Youngstown. “We have established a network of participating blood suppliers that will work at the local level to supply hospitals with convalescent plasma. The key to the success of this program is the donor population.” 

The FDA has named the Mayo Clinic as the lead institution for the convalescent plasma program and expanded access to health-care systems nationwide.

Qualifying donors are those who had COVID-19 and have been symptom-free for at least 28 days. Blood can be donated at approved sites, locally through the American Red Cross. A donor registration can be found here.

Donated blood is screened for safety before the plasma is separated. One donation can be distributed to up to four COVID-19 patients.

Investigative convalescent plasma used within the guidelines of the EAP is different from antibody testing, which is also referred to as serologic testing for COVID-19. While both programs use antibodies found in a person’s blood, investigative convalescent plasma is a treatment for patients with COVID-19 who are at high risk of progression to a severe or life-threatening stage of the disease. 

In comparison, serologic testing is a new laboratory blood test developed by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention to assist with efforts to determine how much of the U.S. population has been exposed to the virus that causes COVID-19.

For more information or to find a list of local blood donation centers participating in the expanded access investigative convalescent plasma program, visit or call 888 700 9011.

Published by The Business Journal, Youngstown, Ohio.