Antibody infusion helps father recover from COVID-19

Received antibody infusion in August 2021
Received antibody infusion in August 2021(KWCH)
Published: Sep. 17, 2021 at 4:44 PM CDT
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WICHITA, Kan. (KWCH) - Getting ill from COVID-19 is now just a memory for Jay Schlegel.

“It was challenging with three young children, 11 to 1, but the actual COVID itself, it’s not fun. I was just real tired, really lacking energy,” Schlegel said.

He immediately turned to his sister who leads the infusion center at Ascension Via Christi in Wichita. A new clinic has been expanded to treat COVID-19 patients with antibody treatments. Schlegel was among those patients.

“I am thankful for the regeneration that I did get the infusion, that I started feeling better within a day,” he said. “That helped me out. That helped my family out.”

Antibody treatments are free for people who are at risk of becoming ill, like Schlegel, who is on blood pressure medication. You must meet one of several high-risk factors to get the infusion. Among those is being older than 65 or being overweight.

High-risk criteria for antibody infusions:

  • At least 65 years old
  • Obesity or being overweight with a body mass index (BMI) over 25
  • Pregnancy
  • Chronic kidney disease
  • Diabetes
  • Immunosuppressive disease or treatment
  • Cardiovascular disease, including congenital heart disease
  • Chronic lung disease, including COPD or moderate to severe asthma
  • Sickle cell disease
  • Neurodevelopmental disorders “or other conditions that confer medical complexity like genetic or metabolic syndromes or severe congenital anomalies
  • Having a medical-related technological dependence like a tracheostomy, gastrostomy or positive pressure ventilation not related to COVID-19
  • Other medical conditions or factors placing patient at high risk for progressing to severe COVID-19

Criteria that must be met to qualify for infusion treatment:

  • At least 12 years old
  • Weigh at least 40 kg ( about 88 pounds)
  • Has one or more mild or moderate COVID-19 symptoms: fever, cough, sore throat, malaise, headache, muscle pain, gastrointestinal symptoms, or shortness of breath with exertion
  • Within 10 days of symptom onset
  • First positive SARS-CoV-2 viral test result within the last 10 days

Exclusion criteria from infusion treatment:

  • Hospitalized due to COVID-19
  • Requirement of oxygen therapy due to COVID-19
  • Requirement of an increase in baseline oxygen flow due due to COVID-19 in those patients on chronic oxygen therapy due to underlying non-COVID-19-related comorbidity
  • Suspected or proven serious, active bacterial, fungal, viral, or other infection (besides COVID-19)
  • Any comorbidity requiring surgery within seven days or is considered life threatening within 29 days
  • Receipt of an investigational intervention for SARS-CoV-2 (i.e. prophylaxis within 30 days before dosing, convalescent COVID-19 plasma)

Since December, Ascension Via Christi has administered nearly 600 infusions and less than 15 have ended up hospitalized there. Ascension Via Christi is administering more antibody treatments. However, the treatment remains under emergency-use authorization and is only available for those who are within 10 days of symptom onset.

Schlegel credits the treatment for helping him to avoid severe illness with COVID-19.

“It helped me. It helped several people I know lessen the symptoms and get better faster,” he said. “It’s out there. We need to get this to people that need it.”

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