Bessler contracted the virus in March. He was hospitalized with dangerously low oxygen levels but eventually took a turn for the better.
He participated in the federally-sponsored Expanded Access Program for Convalescent Plasma.
Officials say he was the seventh person to donate plasma as part of the Mayo Clinic’s program in Minnesota. Thousands of other recovered COVID-19 patients have participated nationwide.
“I was proud to be one of the first participants in this innovative treatment program at the Mayo Clinic,” Bessler said. “I encourage all others who have recovered from COVID-19 to also consider donating their plasma to help develop potential remedies to this virus that is impacting so many people across Minnesota and the country.”
The convalescent plasma therapy program involves giving patients an infusion of antibody-rich plasma from people who have recovered from the virus. Officials say those who have recovered from COVID-19, such as Bessler, have antibodies to the disease in their blood which may help fight the virus.
Bessler waited to give his plasma until he was no longer contagious, which doctors say is critical. Dr. Frank Rhame, an infectious diseases physician at Abbott Northwestern Hospital, says it’s hard to know how helpful plasma donations will be.
“It’s the best we got, and it’s reasonable to hope that it’ll work,” Rhame said.
He says the more people who donate antibodies, the more the medical community will learn.
“It’s likely enough to help compared to how likely it is to hurt that I tell patients it’s worth it,” he said.
Rhame also clarified that testing the efficacy of giving patients antibodies as a treatment is separate from the creation of a vaccine.
Antibody infusions are a form of passive immunity. With vaccines, patients develop their own antibodies, which is a form of active immunity.
To learn more about how you can donate click here.