'I feel fine now:' Southern Pines OBGYN who recovered from COVID-19 donates plasma to UNC Health

CHAPEL HILL, N.C. (WTVD) -- UNC Health is continuing its fight against COVID-19 and is now collecting plasma from recovered coronavirus patients to help current UNC Health COVID-19 patients.

UNC School of Medicine researchers are planning a clinical trial to analyze coronavirus antibody responses in patients who receive the plasma.

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"We're hopeful that people who have had the disease have built up antibodies and we collect them and give them to a patient," said Dr. Susan Weiss, who works in the Department of Pathology and Laboratory Medicine at UNC Health.

To be eligible, you must have tested positive for COVID-19 and need to be symptom free for 28 days. If any less than that, you'd need to get secondary test for COVID-19 to confirm you're negative.

FULL CORONAVIRUS COVERAGE

Plasma collection takes place at UNC-Chapel Hill every Saturday by appointment only. Potential donors must also meet all criteria for typical blood donation. To be screened to donate plasma, individuals are asked to complete a screening questionnaire.

"I feel fine, good now," said Dr. John Byron, who recently donated his plasma for research at UNC Health. "It's nothing I want anybody to go through that's for sure."

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Dr. Byron is an OBGYN who works at Southern Pines Women's Health Center. He tested positive for the virus a month ago.

He believes he got it while he and his wife were in Germany or on their way home.

"I'm a very careful person and I got it," he said, adding that he gave it to his wife. "It's something that can happen to anybody that's for sure."

Researchers know from the global experience with the 2003-2003 SARS outbreak, as well as Ebola epidemic, that this type of therapy has the potential to help COVID-19 patients.

Whether convalescent plasma is a beneficial therapy may depend on the concentration of antibodies present in the plasma and specific anti-viral properties of antibodies from different recovered donors.

A multidisciplinary team of UNC School of Medicine researchers will study the antibody responses donated through the UNC Blood Donation Center as part of the UNC Convalescent Plasma Task Force.
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