UI Health selected as first Vitalant convalescent plasma partner

The UI Health is the first health system to partner with Vitalant, formerly LifeSource, on a pilot program to treat patients with active, severe cases of COVID-19 with blood plasma from people who have recovered from COVID-19.

Known as “convalescent plasma,” this blood product contains antibodies that may give patients an extra boost to fight their life-threatening illness. 

“UI Health is extremely pleased to be the first health care system to participate in the Vitalant convalescent plasma program in Chicagoland as it brings a promising investigational treatment to hospitalized patients who are battling severe COVID-19 infections in our area,” said UIC’s Dr. Sally Campbell-Lee, associate head of pathology and director of clinical affairs for the department.

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration has identified and approved convalescent plasma treatment as an “emergency investigational new drug” based on results of similar treatments of past diseases such as Ebola. 

“Convalescent plasma is currently the only antibody treatment available to COVID-19 patients and as such, is a promising new tool,” said Dr. Mona Papari, senior chief medical officer for Vitalant-Illinois. “Because of its potential, the FDA, along with hospitals and blood centers such as Vitalant have quickly responded with a program which combines the strength of each organization with the altruism of the recovered donors to assist critically ill patients.”

Vitalant’s partner hospitals will be operating under FDA investigational protocols — hospitals have obtained blanket or emergency Investigational New Drug, eIND, application approval from the FDA — and are poised to screen potential donors. Once donor eligibility is confirmed, Vitalant will work with the hospitals to collect and process the plasma.

Those over the age of 16 who have had and recovered from COVID-19, and want to donate plasma are encouraged to apply at: vitalant.org/covidfree.

Current criteria include:

  • over the age of 16 (16-year-olds require parental consent)
  • prior diagnosis of COVID-19, documented by a laboratory test
  • complete resolution of symptoms for at least 28 days or complete resolution of symptoms for at least 14 days and a negative test result for COVID-19
  • all other donor eligibility for an automated plasma donation

Even with these requirements, there may be additional tests or other criteria required. In some instances, those who have recovered from COVID-19 may be able to donate, even if they did not have an initial laboratory test.

Donors and physicians should consult the most current FDA guidance. In addition, hospitals and physicians are encouraged to visit vitalant.org/covidfree for more information.

Vitalant will only accept donors who have recovered from COVID-19 after they have been evaluated and cleared by a physician. This ensures that only fully recovered individuals are entering Vitalant facilities and donating plasma. Donors must be fully approved to participate in the program prior to arriving at a Vitalant Community Donation Center.

More information is available at 866-CV-PLSMA (866-287-5762) or email covidfree@vitalant.org.

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