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Arizona blood bank using emergency plasma treatment for virus patients

(Photo provided by Vitalant)

PHOENIX — A blood service provider in Phoenix has launched a program to begin treating coronavirus patients with plasma donated by those who have recovered from the virus.

Vitalant received its first donation of convalescent plasma — a blood component containing antibodies which could boost patients’ abilities to fight off the coronavirus — on Wednesday from 21-year-old Scottsdale resident Jack Schmittlein, according to a press release.

Schmittlein had been studying abroad in Spain and tested positive for COVID-19 on March 18. He tested negative on April 2.

“This is an example of the medical and research communities coming together to effect real change during this pandemic,” said Vitalant Chief Medical Officer Ralph Vassallo.

“Convalescent plasma is a promising response tool for fighting COVID-19 in patients, and potentially for those working on the front lines.”

The Food and Drug Administration has designated convalescent plasma an “emergency investigational new drug,” and is currently the only antibody treatment option available to coronavirus patients.

Vitalant is seeking additional plasma from would-be donors.

In order to qualify as a convalescent plasma donor, an individual must have a prior diagnosis of coronavirus documented by a laboratory test, be symptom-free for at least 14 days and meet all current FDA requirements regarding plasma donation.

Those who meet the initial donor criteria can apply to donate online or call (866) 287-5762.

For all articles, information and updates on the coronavirus from KTAR News, visit

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