MIAMI (CBSMiami) – For 87 days, Dr. Vladimir Laroche was in a coma and on a ventilator suffering from COVID-19.
In April, his family made sure he got convalescent plasma as part of his larger treatment to help battle the virus.
“I put my trust in God, I say God will do whatever need to be done,” said Dr. Laroche. “So when I received the plasma, I think somehow the plasma helped.”
Paul Laroche is Vladimir’s brother.
“It was really looking grim at that point in time and the plasma, within 24 hours, showed a little sign of improvement, which gave the doctors a window of opportunity,” Paul said.
He said the family is pleased the FDA issued “emergency use authorization” for convalescent plasma. It will allow widespread use without requiring authorization.
But experts said there’s a caution.
“They were very clear in that letter to state that they are not giving full blanket approval, they are giving emergency authorization, that’s the value of it,” explained Dr. Dushyantha Jayaweera, an infectious disease and COVID-19 researcher with the University of Miami’s Miller School of Medicine.
He’s part of a study to determine how effective convalescent plasma is as part of the treatment plan for someone who’s infected.
He said even with this emergency approval, the research must continue.
“It’s one of the things in the tool box,” he said. “It’s one of the things we can use. It is not a magic bullet at all. It is one of the things we can use.”
Dr. Laroche and his family are grateful they got approval early on calling it a lifesaver.
“We went forward with it and thank God, that was the first sign that something got through and gave him the opportunity to move forward with other therapies, other medical interventions,” Paul said.
You can find out more about donating convalescent plasma from OneBlood.
Paul Laroche runs a foundation called Heal As One, where he matches convalescent donors with people in need.