DAYTON — When Community Blood Center launched Ohio’s first COVID-19 Convalescent Plasma program at the start of the coronavirus pandemic, the son of an Oakwood rabbi who had fought off infection while quarantined in his family’s basement was the first to donate.
A wave of more than 9,425 doses of CCP followed over the next year, collected by CBC and shipped to hospitals for the emergency treatment of critically ill coronavirus patients.
With the decline of COVID-19 hospitalizations in the region, and a national “surge supply” stockpile of CCP complete, CBC ceased collection of convalescent plasma on March 20.
Convalescent plasma is a century-old treatment deployed against COVID-19 on the theory that antibodies in the plasma of COVID-19 survivors would help fight the new coronavirus.
With the pandemic raging and few treatments available, researchers pushed to make CCP available. The joint effort of physicians and staff from Community Blood Center, Premier Health and Wright Patterson Air Force Base led to the establishment of the CBC CCP program.
“Everyone really stepped up,” said CBC/CTS COO Diane Wilson. “We have an adequate stock. What a job by everyone involved, our staff, our hospitals, our blood drive sponsors, and our donors. The Dayton region goes on the map for this accomplishment. We were one of the first and one of the best. We’re not a big blood center but we acted like the big guys.”
Launching the CCP program demanded rapid design, approval, and implementation of new collection, testing, labeling and shipping procedures. An early challenge was identifying and recruiting recovered COVID-19 patients to donate.
The first donation by Menachem Mendel Mangel on April 6, 2020, was one of only 21 donations in the first month. He was exposed to COVID-19 in his home city of Brooklyn, N.Y., and diagnosed while visiting his family in Oakwood.
In June CBC began collecting from donors who qualified by a positive antibody test, not just the RNA nasal swab test.
In August the FDA granted Emergency Use Authorization for CCP based on safety and efficacy data. In the fall of 2020 CBC greatly expanded CCP collections at mobile blood drives, particularly in COVID-19 outbreak areas. The first was Oct. 8 at Journey of Faith Fellowship church in South Charleston, followed by the first college campus “Crisis Warrior” plasma drive Oct. 13 at the University of Dayton.
Hospital usage of CCP reached an all-time high in November and on Nov. 22, CBC began opening Sundays for CCP collection. CBC began testing all blood donors for COVID-19 antibodies and was able to identify more potential CCP donors. Currently nearly 30 percent of donors test positive for COVID antibodies.
In January CBC met the CCP needs of all area hospitals and was able to send more shipments to blood centers outside the region and provide emergency supply to states with the highest rate of infection.
In February 2021 CBC followed January Blood Donor Awareness Month by calling 2021 “Blood Donor Year.” In the week of Feb. 2, 2021, CBC reached peak collection of 258 CCP donations and peak shipping of 968 doses.
As demand for CCP diminished, CBC ceased Sunday CCP collections at the Dayton CBC Donation Center on March 14 and ended all CCP collection on March 20. In the final month, CBC collected 425 CCP donations and shipped 2,079 doses. Much of the final shipment contributed to the national CCP stockpile.
From October 2020 to March 2021 CBC totaled 91 CCP-only plasma drives through the dedicated effort of 40 sponsors and included CCP collection at 169 mobile blood drives supported by 31 sponsors.
In the nearly one-year history of the CCP program, April 2020 through March 2021, CBC totaled 4,128 CCP donations from 2,007 donors and shipped 9,425 doses. Half of that total, 4,688 doses, went to CBC’s regional hospitals.