Fort Worth hospital treating COVID-19 patient with coronavirus survivor's plasma

A coronavirus patient at Texas Health Harris Methodist Hospital Fort Worth is being treated with the same life-saving measure that helped during the Ebola outbreak.

Doctors are injecting the patient with plasma that came from someone who has recovered from COVID-19.

As the coronavirus continues to claim more lives, doctors at Texas Health Fort Worth are among physicians around the country experimenting with a possible life-saving measure.

“We had a donor who tested positive, had the illness and then test negative,” said Dr. John Burk, a pulmonologist for Texas Health Fort Worth. “So he became a potential donor and then a willing donor.”


Burk says the man tested positive for COVID-19 but has since recovered. He donated his blood plasma to a COVID-19 patient on a ventilator and in critical condition at the hospital.

“In hopes it will increase their immunity to help them recover from what can become a deadly, deadly illness,” Burk explained. “There is no measurement to say this works. It's rather how he clinically improved in the days ahead.”

Indicators would be if a patient's fever broke, x-ray improved, and he began breathing on his own. Dr. Burk says only time will tell.

As the number of critical cases continues to climb, Dr. Burk says there's a need for other donors.

Parker County Justice of the Peace Kelvin Miles immediately stepped up. He was just cleared by his doctor after getting positive test results back for coronavirus on March 23. On Tuesday, he went to Carter Blood Bank to donate his plasma. He was eager to help others suffering from the virus.

“Anything I can do to help after going through this. If I have a chance to help, that's what I want to do,” he said. “They took me to a chair and set me down. It took about 45 minutes to do the process, but it was real simple.”


Dr. Burk hopes other qualified donors, like Judge Miles, will follow his lead.

“We anticipate that there's going to be a lot more cases in Texas, just like in other parts of the country,” Burk said. “And we hope to have enough qualified donors to offer this to those whose doctors think would be of help.”

Dr. Burk says each plasma transfer is approved on a case-by-case basis. The patient's doctor must first make a recommendation for the procedure. The FDA and an institutional review board have to get their okay.