LSU Health-Shreveport first in state to test plasma treatment for coronavirus

COVID-19: 1st in LA, 3rd in U.S.; experimental treatment on trial in Caddo

SHREVEPORT, La. (KSLA) — LSU Health-Shreveport and LifeShare Blood Centers are partnering to test convalescent plasma therapy on coronavirus patients.

The trial is the first of its kind in Louisiana and the third of its kind in the U.S.

David Langston, the first coronavirus case in Caddo Parish, and friend Caddo sheriff’s Cpl. Kevin Calhoun recovered from COVID-19 and on Saturday donated their plasma.

The plasma transfusion is a clinical trial to see whether anitbodies that their immune systems created would help those who are battling a more advanced stage of the coronavirus.

“If this works, I think it will be out there for the people to be invited to go give their plasma. And they need to do it," Calhoun said. "We need to help each other. We are all in this together, even though we are apart. We’re all in this together.”

The reason the research is so exciting is because it is brand-new, said Ben Prijatel, senior director of blood operations for LifeShare. "The FDA just approved this experimental treatment last week.

"This is treatment that happens all the time. People in our area receive plasma all the time, but not specifically to fight COVID-19.”

The clinical trial also is being conducted in Houston and New York.

“If this trial proves to be effective, the FDA has been very quick to identify new technologies to get out there," said Dr. Chris Kevil, of LSU Health-Shreveport. "The FDA is wanting and willing to expedite this treatment as soon as there’s shown benefit.”

Researchers now are waiting to see results from a critical coronavirus patient who received the plasma transfusion, Kevil said.

It’s one of several clinical trials going right now.

“We just announced yesterday a new trial using a drug called inhaled nitric oxide for patients that are suffering from severe COVID-19," Kevil said. "That trial is a multisite and international trial.

"We are doing this trial in conjunction with Massachusetts General Hospital, or Harvard, and UAV. So we are the only three sites in the United States doing this.”

The work shows some promise, Prijatel said.

“Early signs from us and other hospitals who have done this show there is going to be real progress in helping those who are suffering the most from this,.

And LifeShare Blood Centers still is open and accepting donations, Prijatel added.

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