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SPMC to experiment with plasma, hyperbaric therapies vs. COVID-19

The Southern Philippines Medical Center (SPMC) is still awaiting the guideline on how to efficiently conduct a convalescent plasma therapy as a potential treatment for COVID-19.

Convalescent plasma therapy involves transfusing certain components from the blood of recovered COVID-19 patients into infected people or those who are at high risk of getting the virus. In theory, the antibodies in the blood of the person who recovered from the disease will help kickstart a person’s immune system.

SPMC chief Dr. Leopoldo Vega, on Monday’s virtual press conference, said the hospital has the capacity to perform the therapy.

“We have the machine for it, we can do it in a blood bank facility wherein they separate the plasma from the blood of this convalescent patient and give this to patients,” he said.

He also said that they have been discussing the plan since last week so that they can finalize the protocols of using the convalescent plasma. He said the head of the hematology department will soon be releasing the guidelines.

In Metro Manila, some hospitals already conducted initial tests to prove whether or not the therapy works. Some COVID-19 survivors have already donated blood plasma to certain hospitals in Manila.

Currently, there is no vaccine and specific medicine to prevent or treat COVID-19. But experts have pointed to the potential benefits of plasma—a blood fluid—from recovered COVID-19 patients who have developed antibodies against the virus to enable the body’s defenses to attack it.

Convalescent plasma has also proven effective in small studies to treat infectious diseases including Ebola and SARS.

Vega also added that they are also looking at the possibility of performing hyperbaric method to treat their patients.

“There are reports, especially anecdotal (reports) coming from a hospital in New York, wherein they’ have been using hyperbaric treatment for moderate and selected patients for COVID-19 positive (patients) and we are looking at the possibility of using hyperbaric medicine,” he said.

Hyperbaric medicine is typically used to treat decompression sickness, a condition suffered by divers with improper techniques. But it can also be used to hasten the healing process of gangrene and diabetic wounds, among others.

“We can see whether these moderate patients no longer need intubation. The kind of challenges that we’re facing is we’re looking for modalities to make sure that we are able to serve our patients well,” he added.

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