American donates convalescent plasma to help Vietnam in COVID-19 treatment

Thursday, 2020-08-13 09:39:46
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Kelly Michelle Koch undergoing a check-up for plasma donation in Hanoi on August 12, 2020.
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NDO – A recovered patient from the US was among the first 17 people to have volunteered to donate their convalescent plasma to facilitate the treatment of other COVID-19 patients in Vietnam.

>>> Health ministry seeks convalescent plasma to treat COVID-19 patients

Kelly Michelle Koch, a 50-year-old American woman living in Ho Chi Minh City, was present at the Hanoi-based National Hospital for Tropical Diseases since the early morning of August 12 for screening tests before making her plasma donation.

After a long flight from the South to the capital city, Kelly said that this was her chance to help others in need after she learned about the programme launched by the Ministry of Health, which seeks donations of convalescent plasma from those who have fully recovered from COVID-19 to lend a hand in treating severely ill patients with the coronavirus.

The American national was provided with treatment at the Cu Chi Field Hospital in HCM City after she was confirmed to have contracted the coronavirus after returning from her European trip, becoming the 196th COVID-19 patient in Vietnam.

Kelly expressed her sincere thanks to the Vietnamese Government and doctors for providing treatment to help her fully recover, saying that Vietnam is doing very well in the COVID-19 fight and now it’s time for her to lend a hand.

So far, 17 people who have recovered from COVID-19 have registered to donate their plasma, of which nine have been screened, two have finished plasma donation and the rest are waiting for their screening results for the donation eligibility. The collected plasma will be used for COVID-19 patients undergoing treatment across the country.

Doctor Vu Thi Thu Huong, Head of the Examination Department at the hospital’s Giai Phong Facility, said that five recovered patients went to her hospital on Wednesday morning to be screened for necessary tests before their plasma donation. They are among the 17 recoveries to have registered to donate plasma within a week since the call from the Ministry of Health.

According to the doctor, plasma is considered a safe and effective treatment solution for COVID-19 patients, especially for those who are critically ill. The convalescent plasma contains a large amount of antibodies that are capable of neutralising the SARS-CoV-2 virus after being injected into critically ill COVID-19 patients.

The amount of plasma taken is at about 600ml, with only the plasma being extracted through use of modern equipment, while white blood cells, red blood cells and platelets remain in the donor’s body, causing almost no health impacts on the donors. After donating plasma, it is possible to compensate for the lack of the taken fluid to help them stabilise immediately.

The extracted plasma is stored at minus 18-25C and must be used within 12 months while it can be transferred with ensuring refrigeration at negative temperatures.

The convalescent plasma therapy has been used for a long time through many epidemics since the beginning of the 20th century, such as with influenza, mumps and measles, and the recent outbreaks of SARS, Ebola and COVID-19.

This therapy has been studied and applied in many countries around the world in treating COVID-19 patients with quite encouraging results. It has been recognised as a method of treatment included in the treatment guidelines for COVID-19 patients in hospitals.

Recovered COVID-19 patients are encouraged to contact the hotline 19003228 or the Department of Social Work at the National Hospital for Tropical Diseases for further advice.