Sanford starts blood plasma therapy for COVID patients

Shawn Neisteadt
Sanford Health Media Relations
605-366-2432 /

SIOUX FALLS, S.D., April 20, 2020 — A critically ill patient has received a transfusion of plasma from a recovered COVID-19 patient, the first use of the therapy in the Sanford Health system.

The treatment is part of a national clinical trial to test the effect of blood plasma in treating COVID-19. The use of plasma under this program is for hospitalized patients with severe COVID-19, or those at high risk of progression to life-threatening disease.

Convalescent plasma is an antibody-rich product made from blood donated by people who have recovered from COVID-19. Studies suggest the plasma may lessen severity or shorten the length of the illness caused by the virus.

“This is another step forward in our efforts to find effective treatments for this virus,” said Allison Suttle, M.D., chief medical officer for Sanford Health. “It’s still early, but we are optimistic that the disease-fighting antibodies found in plasma could potentially slow the progression of the disease in our sickest patients.”

Because the therapy is still considered experimental, the convalescent plasma is being administered under the Expanded Access Program led by Mayo Clinic. Multiple Sanford Health sites are participating in the program.

Sanford Health’s first patient receiving the therapy is in Fargo, North Dakota. The blood plasma used in the treatment was obtained from the New York Blood Center. Sanford will use the therapy with more patients as needed in the coming weeks.

Sanford Health is working to open several clinical trials for COVID-19 treatments, including prophylactic use of hydroxychloroquine to prevent or reduce the severity of the disease in high-risk patients exposed to the virus, such as health care workers.

About Sanford Health

Sanford Health, one of the largest health systems in the United States, is dedicated to the integrated delivery of health care, genomic medicine, senior care and services, global clinics, research and affordable insurance. Headquartered in Sioux Falls, South Dakota, the organization includes 44 hospitals, 1,400 physicians and more than 200 Good Samaritan Society senior care locations in 26 states and nine countries. Nearly $1 billion in gifts from philanthropist Denny Sanford have transformed how Sanford Health improves the human condition.