Staff Report

Santa Barbara Cottage Hospital and the Cottage Health Research Institute (CHRI) have partnered with Vitalant in Santa Barbara to use blood plasma donated by people who have recovered from COVID-19 to help those who are fighting the illness. Known as “convalescent plasma,” this blood component contains antibodies that may give hospital patients an extra boost in their recovery.

CHRI led the efforts for Santa Barbara Cottage Hospital to become an approved site for the Multiple Patient Expanded Access protocol with Mayo Clinic for convalescent plasma treatment. Currently, three patients have received convalescent plasma transfusion as part of this emergency investigational new drug research.

Currently, there are no vaccines or proven treatments for COVID-19 because the virus is so new. Although trials for a vaccine are underway, it is expected to be many months before one is approved. The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has identified and approved convalescent plasma treatment as an emergency investigational new drug. It is currently the only antibody treatment available to COVID-19 patients and, as such, is a promising new tool.

This form of investigational treatment may give the body more fight against COVID-19 by using antibodies that are active against the disease. Cottage and Vitalant are gearing up to help patients fight this novel infectious disease with the help of willing recovered COVID-19 patients.

“Convalescent plasma is an exciting option for patients, especially as we struggle to find effective medications for those with severe COVID-19,” said Dr. Lynn Fitzgibbons, Chair of Division of Infectious Disease, Medical Education Director of Quality and Research, and Chair of the Institutional Review Board at Cottage Health.

“With this treatment, we hope to harness the wisdom of the immune system from those who have successfully beaten this disease, and use this wisdom, in the form of antibodies, to help the next patient suffering from this infection,” Dr. Fitzgibbons added. “I’m so grateful for the kindness of our wonderful donors, who in the wake of their own illness are offering to help those currently experiencing the severe forms of this disease.”

Vitalant is seeking convalescent plasma donors to help patients.  Eligibility criteria are:

  • Prior diagnosis of COVID-19, documented by a laboratory test
  • Complete resolution of symptoms for at least 14 days
  • Meet all other current FDA donor eligibility requirements to donate plasma

Even with these requirements, there may be additional tests or other criteria required. In some instances, those who have recovered from COVID-19 may be able to donate, even if they did not have an initial laboratory test. Those who meet that criteria and want to donate plasma are encouraged to apply through the Vitalant website For more information, please call
866-CV-PLSMA (866-287-5762).

Vitalant will only accept donors who meet all FDA-required donor eligibility criteria and are symptom-free for at least 14 days.  Potential donors can only donate if they have applied and have been accepted to the program. Donors cannot walk in for this procedure; they must first fill out the form at to begin the application process. Potential donors will then be contacted by Vitalant.