Plasmapheresis Donors Wanted and a Message to Healthcare Colleagues

April 10, 2020

Dear Members of the Pathology and Laboratory Medicine Community,

I am happy to share a new message of gratitude from Penn President Amy Gutman, who recently addressed our healthcare colleagues, friends, leaders, and heroes at Penn Medicine:

"The world looks to your example. The everyday courage and stamina you show under intense pressure, the lives you save, and your unwavering commitment to clinical care, research, and education. Having exchanged leadership lessons and 'war stories' with peers worldwide, I know for a fact that nobody in the world does it better than Penn Medicine.

 "That’s why the whole world is cheering you on: from Joel Embiid, Josh Harris, and David Blitzer from the Sixers, to Lizzo and Jeffrey Lurie, to all the grateful patients and families, to communities and nations who are rising and sending precious PPE in support of our mission, the most important mission of our times. In this time of COVID-19–and at all times!—you are the healthcare heroes and leaders we need."

Our Dean Larry Jameson participated in a panel discussion about "Providers on the Front Line: Lessons Learned," in which the panelists shared insights on preparedness, testing, the current surge of cases, and lessons being learned to better handle outbreaks in the future. A video of the panel is available here.

A pioneering study at Penn will test how currently hospitalized COVID-19 patients respond to receiving plasma as an investigational treatment. The study is looking for plasmapheresis donors who have recovered from COVID-19 and would be willing to donate plasma. To participate, donors must have had an infection confirmed by a positive test and be 28 days or more without symptoms. The registry is online here.

On a related note, Scientific American published a very helpful article on the recent FDA Emergency Use Authorization for a blood test for antibodies against SARS-CoV-2. While the presence of antibodies to the SARS-CoV-2 virus could provide some protection, scientists need more data to determine what "those antibody tests mean for real life."

I also want to call attention to the fact that SEPTA is implementing a revised schedule for LUCY buses starting Monday, April 13. SEPTA will also limit each LUCY bus to 10 riders to enforce social and physical distancing. Please check their website for the revised schedules.

Today is the second day of Passover and Good Friday. Ramadan begins in two weeks. But no matter your faith, creed, beliefs, or convictions, I hope that you will find comfort in the fact that we are doing everything we can to get through this crisis together.

Please continue to take care of yourselves because we are here for each other.

David Roth
Chair, Pathology & Laboratory Medicine