Two Long Beach hospitals are among more than 2,000 hospitals nationwide participating in a study to test whether transferring plasma from patients who have had COVID-19 can help those who are suffering from severe or life-threatening cases of the virus. 


“The use of convalescent plasma from patients that have recovered from other types of infections can sometimes be lifesaving,” stated Dr. Emanuel Ferro, a pathologist at Long Beach Medical Center who is leading the MemorialCare research team. 


The effort is part of the U.S. government-supported national Expanded Access Program.


Participating centers—including four hospitals in Southern California run by MemorialCare—are contacting those who have recovered from COVID-19 to recruit plasma donors. All donors are being directed to San Diego Blood Bank, which is supplying MemorialCare hospitals with convalescent plasma.


Convalescent plasma is a blood product extracted from patients who have recovered from COVID-19. Doctors hope the plasma contains antibodies to the coronavirus, which can then help infected patients fight off the disease. This method has been successful in the treatment of other diseases caused by viruses.


To date, the four MemorialCare hospitals have administered 17 plasma transfusions.


Nationwide, the program is taking place at 2,254 hospitals. Nearly 16,000 patients have participated, resulting in more than 10,400 transfusions.


“Our hope is that the transfusion of plasma from patients that have recovered from COVID-19 infection may provide an additional valuable therapeutic option for our patients,” Ferro said.


Other MemorialCare facilities participating in the program are Miller Children and Women’s Hospital Long Beach, Orange Coast Medical Center in Fountain Valley and Saddleback Medical Center in Laguna Hills.

Brandon Richardson is a reporter and photojournalist for the Long Beach Post and Long Beach Business Journal.