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Former COVID-19 patients to be tested to determine if they can donate plasma

Mount Sinai Hospital in Manhattan is pictured on

Mount Sinai Hospital in Manhattan is pictured on April 3, 2020.  Credit: Craig Ruttle

More than 200 people who have recovered from the coronavirus are expected to have their blood drawn Tuesday in Great Neck to see if they qualify to donate plasma — part of an experimental treatment to help patients with severe cases of COVID-19.

Researchers are working to determine if the antibodies in individuals who successfully fought back the virus can be used to stop the infection in other patients.

Shervin Mehdizadeh of Great Neck, who contracted the virus in February, organized Tuesday’s blood drive at Beth Hadassah Synagogue, along with officials from Mount Sinai Hospital in Manhattan.

After recovering from the virus, Mehdizadeh heard about the convalescent plasma treatment and wanted to volunteer but learned that the closest location to be screened was at Mount Sinai. Great Neck is a COVID-19 hot spot on Nassau's North Shore.

Local hospitals operated by Northwell Health, Stony Brook University and Catholic Health Services are poised to launch similar clinical trials in the coming weeks, officials have said.

“I felt that I was going to drive in but nobody else would because they are too worried about going to a hospital,” he said. “So why not just work on them coming out here?”

After setting up a pre-screening website, more than 260 people registered to have their blood drawn. From those people 210 were selected to move forward, he said.

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To participate, individuals must have tested positive or shown symptoms of COVID at least 21 days ago and have fully recovered for a minimum of 14 days.

A team of 12 doctors and nurses will draw blood Tuesday to confirm that the volunteers are COVID-free and if that they have the right kind of antibodies to donate their plasma. That donation could occur at an area laboratory, officials said.

Mehdizadeh, who founded U.S. Nonwovens Corp., a Brentwood-based company that manufactures consumer products, said the goal is for other towns and area hospitals to follow suit and begin collecting plasma on the grass-root level.

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