Two Northeast Florida hospitals to study antibody treatments for COVID-19

Jacksonville's Memorial Hospital and Orange Park Medical Center are asking for plasma donations.

Two Northeast Florida hospitals are participating in a national study to see if plasma from people who have recovered from COVID-19 can help those who become infected with the illness.

Jacksonville’s Memorial Hospital and Orange Park Medical Center, both operated by HCA Healthcare, are participating in the Mayo Clinic and U.S. Food and Drug Administration study researching whether convalescent plasma from previous coronavirus patients could benefit those new patients who’ve become infected. It’s not a vaccine study.

“We are proud to take part in this important study. We are asking for the help of our community to spread awareness about plasma donation for patients facing COVID-19 not only here in Jacksonville, but also around the world,” said Cory Darling, chief operating officer at Memorial Hospital.

Researchers are seeking volunteers. Interested plasma donors can apply on the HCA website or by calling 833-582-1971.

While there is no proven treatment yet for COVID-19, HCA officials said plasma from people with other viruses have previously helped treat newly infected patients.

Recovered patients’ blood contains antibodies produced by the immune system. The same approach has been used for treatments in SARS-1 and Middle East Respiratory Syndrome (MERS).

“It’s important to remember that although an individual has had COVID-19 and recovered, they may be less vulnerable than someone who has not been infected, but they should still follow the recommended precautions such as handwashing and social distancing,” said Bradley Shumaker, chief medical officer at Orange Park Medical Center.

The First Coast hospitals are only two of 172 HCA Healthcare hospitals across the nation taking part in the study.

Drew Dixon

Drew Dixon is a journalist of 40 years who has reported in print and broadcast throughout Florida, starting in Ohio in the 1980s. He is also an adjunct professor of philosophy and ethics at three colleges, Jacksonville University, University of North Florida and Florida State College at Jacksonville. You can reach him at [email protected]


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