American woman offers plasma for Covid-19 research

By Chi Le, Phan Anh   August 13, 2020 | 09:02 am GMT+7

An American woman living in HCMC who recently recovered from Covid-19 has registered to donate plasma to the National Hospital for Tropical Diseases in Hanoi.

Kelly Michelle Koch, 50, was one of 17 people to sign up for the donation for a research approved recently by the Ministry of Health. She's the first foreigner in the country to do so.

She went to the hospital on Wednesday and first had to undergo several screenings and tests to ensure her plasma is safe.

"I felt I had the opportunity to help people, and I was very thankful for everything that the Vietnamese government and healthcare providers did for me," she said.

Kelly Michelle Koch (R) has her blood pressure taken at the National Hospital for Tropical Diseases in Hanoi, August 12, 2020. Photo by VnExpress/Minh Nhat.

Kelly Michelle Koch (R) has her blood pressure taken at the National Hospital for Tropical Diseases in Hanoi, August 12, 2020. Photo by VnExpress/Minh Nhat.

She tried to reassure people about donating plasma, saying: "Another benefit is we get free medical tests. We have screenings for many different things."

She had contracted Covid-19 in March during a trip to Phuket in Thailand. She was treated at the Cu Chi Field Hospital in HCMC, and recovered by early April.

The health ministry earlier this month approved research into the use of plasma from recovered Covid-19 patients to treat the rising number of new cases in the country.

Donors should be between 18 and 65 years old, weigh over 50 kg if male and over 45 kg if female.

They will be tested for hepatitis B, HIV and syphilis.

Screenings and tests are also done to determine the levels of antibodies in donors’ blood. Women donors must not have had over three pregnancies since they might then not have sufficient antibody levels, according to Vu Thi Thu Huong, head of the hospital’s diagnosis department.

Following donation, the plasma is preserved for up to 12 months.

Huong said two people have been approved for the donation: a 29-year-old man and a 39-year-old woman.

Koch's offer is still awaiting approval.

Human plasma is currently used for Covid-19 treatment in some European countries, China and South Korea.

Vietnam has had 883 Covid-19 cases so far, 456 of them active and 18 have succumbed to the disease.

Koch said she has no plans to return to the U.S. any time soon.

"This is my home now. It's very safe here.

"I believe the government did a very good job of containing and minimizing the impacts on the citizens of Vietnam, so I feel very fortunate that I was in Vietnam at this time because now we can pretty much freely return to our work within the country."

 
 
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