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Patient Shares Experience Receiving Antibody Infusion

Monoclonal antibodies are an investigative medical treatment that shows promise in directly neutralizing the COVID-19 virus and reducing viral load, which then potentially decreases the severity of symptoms and reduces the risk of hospitalization of those infected.

ThedaCare Offering Treatment to Eligible COVID-19 Patients

February 5, 2021

APPLETON, Wis. – A new COVID-19 treatment is now being offered to high-risk, COVID positive patients at ThedaCare who meet certain eligibility criteria. Monoclonal antibodies are an investigative medical treatment that shows promise in directly neutralizing the COVID-19 virus and reducing viral load, which then potentially decreases the severity of symptoms and reduces the risk of hospitalization of those infected.

“These treatments have been shown to be most effective when given early in infection, and can significantly decrease the need for hospital admission,” said Dr. Michael Hooker, ThedaCare Vice President and Chief Medical Officer of Acute Care. “We have studied the research and guidelines from the FDA, and are pleased to offer this as an additional tool to treat COVID-19 patients.”

The treatment was provided by the federal government. Bamlanivimab (BAM) and Regeneron were granted emergency use authorization (EUA) for mild to moderate COVID-19 cases for people who are not hospitalized and are at high risk for progressing to severe illness. Dr. Hooker explained this treatment is not designed to be used in younger patients, or for those without other health factors that put them at a greater risk for COVID-19 complications. After evaluating the patient and considering the criteria, patients are referred to receive the treatment by ThedaCare providers. The treatment is delivered via IV infusion over one hour followed by a one hour monitoring period. Patients return home after the treatment.

Heidi Ourada Farah is a patient who recently received a BAM infusion at ThedaCare. She is also a ThedaCare nurse on the Clinical Research Team at the Regional Cancer Center. Farah was diagnosed with COVID-19 at the beginning of 2021.

“It was around New Year’s Day when my husband and I began to feel early symptoms” she said. “I was immediately tested, and it came back positive.” 

Farah has Type 1 Diabetes and asthma, which increases her risk of experiencing severe illness from COVID-19. She described her symptoms as mild in the beginning – fatigue, muscle aches. After a few days, she began to feel worse. That’s when she called her primary care provider.

“Knowing that I am at an increased risk for experiencing severe illness from COVID-19 because of diabetes and asthma, I was worried when I started to feel worse,” she said. “I’m very glad that I called my primary care provider at that point. We talked through what I was experiencing, and knowing a bit about the BAM infusions, I asked if that was a possibility. It was then that the infusion was recommended.”

Dr. Hooker explained that Bamlanivimab is not authorized for patients who are currently in the hospital due to COVID-19, or for those who require oxygen therapy due to COVID-19.

“Bamlanivimab can provide care teams on the frontline of this pandemic with another potential tool in treating COVID-19 patients,” Dr. Hooker. “We feel very fortunate that we can offer the treatment to patients who meet the criteria and we believe will benefit from it.”

Farah described her process for the BAM infusion. She said she made an appointment, and was able to get in that day. She began the infusion through an IV which took about an hour. The final hour she received fluids and was monitored.

“I was surprised with how easy it was,” she said. “I watched Netflix on my phone, and relaxed while the infusion was taking place.”

After a few days, she began to feel better.

“By the weekend, I was up and cleaning my house again,” she laughed. “I was shocked with how I was feeling just days after the BAM infusion. I truly believe that is what made my COVID experience better for me. If you are diagnosed with the virus, I encourage you to talk with your health care provider to get more information about the infusion to see if it is recommended.”

For more information about BAM infusion treatment, COVID-19, vaccines, testing, online care options, an online symptom checker, community resources, prevention guidelines and other important news and updates, please visit thedacarecovid19.org/.