TAMPA, Fla. — COVID-19 hasn't overwhelmed Tampa Bay like other cities, but case numbers continue to rise.
"It hasn't been the war zone for us here in Tampa that other people have experienced, but it's a very scary situation. We have had an average of anywhere from 9 to 14 patients in our hospital so far. Knock on wood hopefully it stays that way," Dr. Guilherme Oliveira said.
With almost 1,000 positive cases reported in just Hillsborough County, the doctor continues to monitor the numbers each day. The virus is unpredictable and there's still no vaccine.
"It's an incredibly aggressive disease. It affects almost every organ system," Oliveira said.
But the doctor says there's hope. Right now the only FDA approved treatment is convalescent plasma from a coronavirus survivor. Tampa General Hospital is using the transfusion to heal their most vulnerable patients.
"Anybody that would be able to donate blood would be able to donate plasma. These patients that have been well for two weeks, we bring them in or we go to their homes to test them. Once those two steps are completed we ask them to come and donate their blood," Oliveira said.
Once a blood donation is made, the plasma is separated and stored for a patient with the same blood type. One donor can treat four patients.
"Within three to five days we start seeing significant improvement. People that are on the ventilator and are requiring high levels of oxygen support, those levels will decrease over time and their inflammatory markers will improve. Their blood counts will also improve," Oliveira said.
TGH has 14 COVID-19 patients in their care. Two are on ventilators. Doctors made their first transfusion this weekend and can already see progress.
"We've been able to handle our patients extremely well and have actually discharged many home. What we want to do is tell everybody who has recovered, that has had this and feels well, to come in and donate. Help save people's lives," Dr. Oliveira said.
If you had coronavirus and have been symptom free for two weeks you can donate your plasma. Just go to a OneBlood center near you.
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