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Turkey is using plasma treatment to save lives in fight against COVID-19 pandemic

Turkey is using plasma treatment to save lives in fight against COVID-19 pandemic

Plasma treatment is a complementary therapy that brings hope to coronavirus patients in Turkey as the country strives to decrease the number of new cases. This treatment relies on donations from recovered patients and is being used widely across the country. New technology is helping in increasing the reach of the transplants. Ramazan Saygılı, a senior official from Turkish Red Crescent (Kızılay) which organizes donations, says recovered patients can now donate plasma eight times and thus, help 16 patients.

Turkey started using plasma in April, one month after the first case was reported in the country. Thousands of patients lined up for donations, but plasma from each patient was limited to the treatment of six patients.

Saygılı told Ihlas News Agency (IHA) on Tuesday that anyone between the ages of 19 and 60 who have recovered from the disease can donate plasma after 14 days following complete recovery.

Turkish Red Crescent obtained 19,500 units of plasma from around 10,000 people since April. Plasma was used in the treatment of thousands of patients in 388 hospitals across the country. The charity, already a leading name in blood donation drives, urges more patients to donate while more than 13,000 people are set to contribute to the plasma drive after their quarantine and test processes are completed.

Using blood donated by patients who have recovered from COVID-19, medical experts hope that the serum therapy, tried more recently against SARS and Ebola, will offer effective treatment for the sick and temporary vaccine-like protection for health care workers and those with weak or suppressed immune systems. The therapy tests if giving infusions of survivors’ antibody-rich plasma to COVID-19 patients who have been intubated in intensive care units and have begun to show alveolar damage or those having trouble breathing would boost their own body’s defenses to help fight off the virus. Plasma works using the same principle as a vaccine, but unlike a vaccine, any protection would only be temporary and offer passive immunization. A vaccine – which contains weakened or inactivated viruses and bacteria or small parts of them – trains people’s immune systems to make their own antibodies against a target germ. When these germs enter the body again, the immune system now knows how to deal with or defeat them. The plasma infusion approach similarly gives people a temporary dose of someone else’s antibodies that are short-lived and require repeated doses.