A number of NBA players who have recovered from COVID-19 are now becoming role models for a new national healthcare initiative to treat patients who are still sick with an experimental therapy.
Just days after the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) approved testing of “convalescent plasma treatment”, physicians at the Methodist Hospital in Houston, Texas became the first in the nation to test the therapy on a small group of COVID-19 patients this week.
The treatment involves drawing blood plasma out of an individual who has built up an immunity to the virus as a result of their recovery. The plasma—which is chocked full of healthy antibodies that have grown to fight the virus—is then injected into a sick patient so the antibodies can theoretically attack the virus for its new host.
Since hospitals across the country are now searching for recovered COVID-19 patients to donate blood plasma, several NBA players are now cooperating with the National COVID-19 Convalescent Plasma Project (CCPP19) to volunteer as donors.
Dr. Michael Joyner, who is a member of the project’s leadership team, told ABC News that four basketball players are participating in the program. Although three of the players have not yet been identified, Boston Celtics guard Marcus Smart confirmed to the news outlet through his agent that he is donating blood plasma after he was declared coronavirus-free by the Massachusetts Department of Health this week.
Not only is Joyner applauding Smart’s efforts as a role model for other recovering COVID-19 patients, he says that athletes who donate blood plasma are likely to be ideal candidates for the experimental treatment.
Just to emphasize: if you’ve recovered, your blood plasma may treat others who are ill. If you’d consider donating it (as @smart_MS3 will) there’s a 30+ institution collaboration to collect, distribute, study this ASAP. Please register here if interested https://t.co/DrDbws2UL2
— David Epstein (@DavidEpstein) April 1, 2020
“These are big men with blood volumes, and as a result [they] have a lot of plasma volume,” Joyner told ABC News. “Frequently people who are physically trained also have an increase in their plasma volume from what you would expect from them just being regular-sized guys … We believe [the treatment] can be disease-modifying and reduce duration and severity in some patients.”
The NBA has also donated $100,000 to the CCPP19 project. If you would like to learn more about the healthcare project—or if you would like to donate blood plasma to a participating hospital near you—be sure and check out the CCPP19 website.
This is just one of many positive stories and updates that are coming out of the COVID-19 news coverage this week. For more uplifting coverage on the outbreaks, click here.
(WATCH the news coverage below) – Feature photo by Marcus Smart
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