Part 2: Local patient receives experimental COVID-19 plasma

Published: Apr. 20, 2020 at 10:39 PM CDT
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On Sunday KGNS brought you the story of a clinical trial being conducted in Laredo on a patient who was severely ill from COVID-19.

The trial calls for the team of physicians- Pathologist Doctor Augusto Ramos, Cardiologist Doctor Ricardo Cigarroa, and Infection Control Physician Doctor Fernando Sanchez, each accredited through the Mayo Clinic's Institutional Review Board- to follow FDA guidelines in transfusing a severely ill COVID-19 patient with the plasma of a recovered COVID-19 patient.

Here's part two of Hunt for the Cure, part one of this story can be found

It's called passive immunity, or convalescent plasma therapy. Plasma that's been donated by a recovered COVID-19 patient, therefore rich in anti-bodies.

The hope is that after it is transfused into a very sick patient, it will kickstart their immune system, killing off the COVID-19 virus.

Doctor Ricardo Cigarroa had called Doctor Ramos one Sunday night, saying he had a patient who met the criteria set forth by the Mayo Clinic that called for transfusion of the convalescent plasma into a deathly-ill patient.

So after overcoming several hurdles and challenges, Doctor Ramos was able to get the special plasma down to Laredo and the very same day it arrived, transfused the patient.

That's where the first part of this story left off.

After the 20 minute procedure was done there was nothing more to do that night except pray for a sign the procedure was working.

"As soon as I woke up, I called the nurse in charge of that patient and I asked him about the OSATS," said Doctor Ramos. "OSATS to begin with are the oxygen saturation, was in the low 90's and he said his oxygen saturation went up to almost 98% and it's almost normal and he's stable, his vital signs were stable."

That's not all.

"His respiratory rate was down to 12 to 13, and it's now back up to 20 respirations a minute, so he's been stable."

So with the patient's lungs beginning to clear up, and his breathing becoming easier, all signs pointed to a reversal of fate. This was all thanks to the plasma from one positive COVID-19 patient given to another.

We ended our conversation by asking Doctor Ramos about how he's feeling about his sense of accomplishment now.

"When I see a sense of purpose, you know you're part of a community, and I thank Doctor Cigarroa for that, because he remembers you, he never forgets."

No doubt this first patient will never forget, as well.

Doctor Ramos and Doctor Cigarroa also pointed out that in severe cases of COVID-19, a patient's heart can become weak as was the case with this patient. Therefore an Impella pump was inserted to help his heart pump blood.

That, together with respiratory treatments and the experimental plasma, all seem to be leading to the patient's recovery.

Those results now being sent back to the Mayo Clinic to be recorded on record.