U.S. Naval Hospital Guam collects convalescent plasma from 138 sailors

US Naval Hospital Guam (PNC file photo)

AGANA HEIGHTS, GUAM –  U.S. Naval Hospital (USNH) Guam began collecting COVID-19 convalescent plasma (CP) May 31 in support of the Department of Defense effort to develop therapeutics to support active duty readiness.

USNH Guam coordinated a four-day evolution with Naval Base Guam at the hospital’s Armed Forces Blood Bank Center to collect the CP, which is the liquid part of blood from patients who have recovered from an infection. Recovered COVID-19 patients have virus-specific antibodies that may help those currently fighting COVID-19 recover and keep those who are moderately ill from becoming seriously ill. While there is currently no approved treatment for COVID-19, CP has been successfully used to counter other viral infections and may help fight this new virus.

During the four-day event, CP units were collected from 138 volunteers, all Sailors assigned to the USS Theodore Roosevelt who have fully recovered from COVID-19. Their donations will help the larger effort of working towards a possible treatment for COVID-19 and may help others fight the disease.

Hospital Corpsman 3rd Class Bailey Carter, assigned to U.S. Naval Hospital Guam, stores plasma collected from Sailors who recovered from COVID-19. (U.S. Navy photo by Jaciyn Matanane/Released)

“We had a 4-day window to recruit and screen volunteer donors, and to collect, manufacture, and test these products,” said USNH Guam Blood Bank Donor Center Department Head and Area Joint Blood Program Officer, Lt. Cmdr. Stephanie Golla. “This resulted in the collection of over 200 convalescent plasma units that will be available for transfusion.”

USNH Guam screened all volunteer donors to determine whether they met the eligibility requirements outlined by the Food and Drug Administration. To be eligible, a donor must be in good health, fully recovered from COVID-19, and meet other specific criteria, such as having a documented positive test.

“We are grateful for their willingness to donate,” said Golla. “This would not have been possible without them.”

Golla expressed that the USS Theodore Roosevelt Sailors, with their display of courage and mental fortitude in this endeavor, are exemplary models of our fighting force.

“It feels good to be a part of this process by having a purpose other than being quarantined,” said Aviation Electronics Technician 2nd Class Charles Curry. “I feel grateful for the time USNH Guam staff have taken out of their lives to help us.”

USNH Guam collected CP to serve in the production of antibody therapeutics and treatment for its service members and beneficiaries infected with the virus. DoD’s efforts to make treatment available at its health care facilities support its mission of a medically ready force.

“This process shows we are step a closer to home and ready to get back to a new normal,” said Curry.

(by Jaciyn Matanane, U.S. Naval Hospital Guam Public Affairs)