DETROIT – New medications and treatments for coronavirus (COVID-19) are being tested in medical centers across the country.
The use of plasma from people who have recovered from COVID-19 to treat patients who are seriously ill has been an especially intriguing option.
Henry Ford Hospital physician Dr. Scott Kaatz took care of some of the first coronavirus patients admitted to the hospital. Unfortunately, he also became an early victim himself. He ended up in the intensive care unit on a ventilator. He was enrolled in the convalescent plasma study while he was being treated at the hospital. He was the first to receive it on April 17.
“The scariest part of this was certainly for my family,” Kaatz said. “I was unconscious, paralyzed, on a ventilator.”
Before he went on the ventilator, Kaatz was able to video chat with his family via Skype.
“We really had a potential goodbye call,” he said.
So far 14 coronavirus patients have undergone transfusions of convalescent plasma at Henry Ford. The plasma is donated by health care workers who have recovered from the virus.
The patients were all very sick, requiring oxygen or a ventilator and now they’re doing well.
“While we can’t say yet that this convalescent plasma is a cure we know that it is certainly not hurting anyone and there is evidence to suggest that we might be moving in the right direction,” Kaatz said.
Kaatz shared that he has another reason to celebrate.
“My father has been on and off of the ventilator at Henry Ford for the last month, actually, and he just came off about 15 minutes ago,” Kaatz said.
All of the patients in the study, including Kaatz, also received other treatments including Remdesivir and Hydroxychloroquine. It’s not possible yet to determine which drug regimen or treatment may have been the most effective.