ROCHESTER, Minn. - A recovered COVID-19 patient who has become a strong nationwide advocate for the Convalescent Plasma Expanded Access Program made a plasma donation at Mayo Clinic in Rochester. Chaim Lebovits became involved with the program in March and since then has rallied thousands, who have also recovered, to donate.The initiative, which Mayo Clinic is leading, studies the use of plasma from recovered COVID-19 patients to treat patients currently suffering from the illness.
Mayo Clinic's Dr. Michael Joyner, principal investigator of the Convalescent Plasma Expanded Access Program, says so far, more than 10,000 COVID-19 patients have received transfusions. A large number of convalescent plasma donations have come from members of the Orthodox Jewish community in New York City, which Lebovits is part of.
"In New York, we have put together a list of close to 20,000 potential donors so all of the blood banks are at maximum capacity for convalescent plasma," says Lebovits, who has been traveling to other parts of the U.S. to make plasma donations.
"Nobody is going to be saved or helped with the plasma staying stuck in me, so if I can share my antibodies with anyone else, I will," says Lebovits.
Members of the Rochester Jewish community say this is an example of how we can all come together in the fight against COVID-19.
"Its able to help one person regardless of the background, regardless of the political affiliation, regardless of the religious affiliation. We're still able to help one another," said Rabbi David Greene of the Chabad-Lubavitch of Southern Minnesota, a Jewish non-profit in Rochester.
Lebovits has created a network of rabbis, religious organizations and health care professionals across the country and has helped organize convalescent plasma drives in cities like Miami, Atlanta and Los Angeles. The ultimate goal, according to Lebovits, is to seek out 45,000 plasma donors nationwide.
"When people understand that they have the ability to save another person's life, it's a call to action and makes almost anyone move," says Lebovits.
Mayo Clinic President and CEO Dr. Gianrico Farrugia stopped by to thank Lebovits for his donation and advocacy.