PHILADELPHIA (CBS) — A South Jersey man is currently fighting for his life after developing COVID-19, and his family is holding out hope that an investigational therapy could help treat him. Earlier this week, the FDA cleared the way for an investigational treatment of COVID-19, which involves the use of blood plasma donated from people who’ve recovered from the virus.
Fifty-year-old Brett Breslow went to Cooper Hospital’s emergency room last Friday after experiencing shortness of breath.
“He was walking in, talking to me a little bit. They would not let me go in with him. Basically said the ER was on lockdown because of the virus,” wife Amy Breslow said.
From outside the hospital, Breslow texted her husband to ask him to keep her updated.
“He texted me back and he said they took him back to a room and I should go home and he loved me and that was the last time I communicated with him,” Breslow said. “He didn’t respond to me after that.”
Breslow says her husband is in critical condition.
“He is intubated and on a ventilator. They had to start dialysis for his kidneys a couple days ago. He’s really critical at this point,” she said.
Breslow hopes her husband will begin to recover on his own or that he could be the recipient of a new investigational therapy which was just authorized by the FDA.
The treatment uses convalescent plasma — blood products from a person who has recovered from COVID-19. The hope is that plasma contains antibodies that could help fight the virus in someone who’s sick with it.
“COVID-19 is very new, it is novel, and so we don’t have all the answers yet,” said Zack Irani, CEO of Cohen Biomerica.
Scientists are still trying to determine if people who develop COVID-19 do, in fact, develop their own immunity to the disease after recovering from it and how long it lasts.
“Papers have suggested that it is likely that they’ll have immunity to it if they have antibodies that are expressed,” Irani said.
Any licensed physician can make a request to the FDA to use convalescent plasma, but there are challenges. It’s not as simple as donating blood. There are only certain facilities that collect the plasma and there’s also a need for people who recover from COVID-19 to make those plasma donations.
People who are interested in donating should email COVIDSerumTesting@mountsinai.org.