WILLMAR — Beginning this week, Carris Health — Rice Memorial Hospital will participate in a national clinical trial using convalescent plasma to treat COVID-19.

The study is led by the Mayo Clinic and supported by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration.

According to a news release from Carris, it is one of more than 2,000 health systems in the country to test the experimental therapy.

In it, the antibody-rich blood serum — plasma — of recovered COVID-19 patients is transfused into people fighting COVID-19.

Plasma therapy has been used in previous disease outbreaks, including in the 1918 influenza pandemic. Early data suggest that it may work for some COVID-19 patients.

At Carris Health, patients who fit the study criteria will receive plasma provided from the American Red Cross. As part of the study, the patients will receive follow-up assessments.

For people interested in donating convalescent plasma, they must meet standard donation requirements. You can find more information on the American Red Cross website. Area health care providers are contacting patients who had a COVID positive result at least 14 days ago or have had a positive antibody test to see if they would be willing to make a plasma donation.

For more information on Mayo Clinic's Convalescent Plasma Study, visit www.uscovidplasma.org.