Just 13 days after receiving Utah’s first convalescent plasma transfusion for treatment of COVID-19 at Intermountain Medical Center as part of a new national treatment protocol, Cynthia Lemus, 24, was discharged from the hospital.
Lemus’ departure from an acute care unit at Intermountain Medical Center on April 30 was cheered on by a line of nurses, doctors, and other caregivers who worked tirelessly to help her beat the odds—and beat a virus that has claimed so many lives.
“It amazes me all that the nurses and doctors did for me,” said Lemus, a flight attendant who was in critical condition and extremely ill for much of her hospital stay. “They called me a fighter, but they were the ones fighting for me.”
A team of Intermountain Healthcare medical experts oversaw Lemus’ plasma transfusion April 17, as part of the U.S. Food and Drug Administration’s newly launched National Expanded Access Treatment Protocol, which allows the use of convalescent plasma donated by patients who have recovered from COVID-19 to be processed and given to patients with the virus.
While Intermountain clinicians are thrilled about Lemus’ recovery, they are unable to attribute her improvement directly to the transfusion of convalescent plasma.
“Although we can’t be sure, it’s certainly possible that the plasma transfusion, in addition to the advanced supportive care that Cynthia received during her hospitalization, contributed to her recovery. But we can’t make a direct correlation,” said Brandon Webb, MD, chair of Intermountain Healthcare’s COVID-19 Therapeutics team.
“Convalescent plasma is one of multiple investigative therapies that we have available for patients in hopes of not only helping them recover, but also learn which treatments are effective,” he added.
Lemus’s plasma donation came from the Mayo Clinic, in Rochester, MN, where clinicians are serving as the lead investigators for the national convalescent plasma treatment protocol.
Read more about convalescent plasma here and Lemus’s experience here.