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New treatment for coronavirus ready to start in Toledo

Plasma from COVID-19 survivors is injected into current patients to try and help them build up antibodies.

TOLEDO, Ohio — Mercy Health and ProMedica are now part of a program in which coronavirus survivors can donate plasma.

Here's how it works: people who have recovered donate plasma. Then, doctors inject that plasma into sick people's systems to help them fight off the virus. 

Mercy Health Chief Clinical Officer Dr. Kevin Casey says he believes the treatment has some promise.

"People who have already been infected with COVID and gotten better, they have developed antibodies to the virus, and these antibodies are like the soldiers that the body makes to fight the battle and fight the war," Casey said.

RELATED: Texas man donates five bags of plasma after recovering from coronavirus

RELATED: ProMedica seeking FDA approval to use plasma to treat COVID-19 patients

While there hasn't been much research yet with COVID-19 since it's so new, the therapy has been effective with similar illnesses in the past.

"We've run into other coronaviruses before, SARS and MERS of which COVID-19 is a coronavirus, and this plasma treatment has been helpful in some cases with SARS and MERS," Casey said.

Just one donation can save four people, something that has recovered coronavirus patients Betsy and Bob Bunda ready to donate as soon as possible.

"For those that were hit harder than we were, it's nice to be able to do something and help," Bob Bunda said.

WTOL 11 spoke to them as they were fighting the virus and they say they feel fortunate and ready to help others.

They have just begun the process of applying to donate.

"I have to get a letter from my doctor and I have to email it to the Red Cross with the last day of my symptoms and then from there, they'll let us know what we do next," Betsy Bunda said.

And they hope their plasma can help their community, the same way their neighbors rallied around them.

"We love that because our community was so great when we were sick. We just had so many prayers and so many people offering to help. We have a great community here, so to know that it would be local would be wonderful,"  Betsy Bunda said.

If you've been diagnosed with COVID 19 and recovered, you might be able to help. Contact the American Red Cross to donate.

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