In February, 2020, I developed a program for convalescent COVID-19 plasma at Hamad Medical Corporation in Doha. In early March, 2020, our program started collecting CCP by apheresis. We started before the software modifications were completed since there were urgent requests by the clinicians for the product.
I proposed the software specifications and our vendor Medinfo Hematos IIG implemented them within 2-3 weeks, after which they were implemented/validated
Thus, now we have 8 month experience has been 8 months since starting manually and more than 7 months using a specific modification of our blood bank software Medinfo.
A complete manual system was implemented with quarantined registration, screening, collection, processing, and release. Only the donor marker testing was shared with the regular donors. This was built into the computer system.
Upon review, these are my current thoughts on our processes:
- Actively monitor supply requests: Keep good communication between ordering/treating physicians and apheresis unit to optimize the stock according to patient needs.
- Collect/process/release separately from regular donations.
- Use dedicated quarantine equipment (apheresis, processing, storage refrigerators)
- Collect manufacturer’s recommended maximum of plasma based on body weight.
- Use pre-donation screening to allow quick release of components and avoid wasting apheresis kits.
- Repeat testing on the new specimen collected at the time of apheresis donation.
- Process units by same processes used for normal donations, including pathogen-inactivation.
- Use standard processes for release of blood components to end-users.
- Restrict ordering to designated treating COVID-19 physicians (enforce in computer system)
- Restrict release of CCP to designated non-blood bank staff from the quarantine storage location (enforce in computer system)
- Include COVID-19 antibody testing and establish a threshold level (e.g. 1:128 titer) for donor qualification. Do not collect if low-titer or absence of COVID-19 antibodies. Store titer information with donation record. Add antibody results to donation records that occurred before the assay was available.
- Review of donor criteria: are there increased risks using these recovered donors: cardiac or respiratory risk? Is there a way to continuously monitor CCP donors’s vital signs during the donation?
- Collect apheresis components only in pre-screened donors: Apheresis kits are expensive, use them only if the donor is prequalified, continue to retest when actual apheresis donation occurs
- Allow use of units directly after collection/processing as long as the other donor processing steps have been completed (allow blood bank computer system to use pre-donation specimen for marker testing criteria).