Mayo Clinic Laboratories Mobilizes for Thousands of Plasma Samples from COVID-19 Survivors

As Amy Ennis put her daughter down for a nap on a Saturday afternoon, she received a call from work. More than 5,000 specimens would soon be arriving at Rochester International Airport (RST) for plasma testing. The logistics involved in the rapid acquisition and processing of a batch of specimens this large is staggering. As a Lab Tech Resource Coordinator for Mayo Clinic Laboratories, Amy realized that this would not be an ordinary weekend.

She learned that the specimens would be flown in from the East Coast by private courier. The Hasidic communities in New York and New Jersey have been hit hard by COVID-19. Tight-knit families have suffered immense loss due to the virus. In response, Lev Rochel Bikur Cholim of Lakewood, NJ, and its affiliates have partnered with Mayo Clinic and the national Expanded Access Program (EAP) for Convalescent Plasma led by Dr. Michael Joyner. Their hope is that blood plasma from recovered COVID-19 patients in the Bikur Cholim community will save lives.

Trailblazing plans were already underway in New Jersey to organize massive blood drives at outdoor testing sites, which involved setting up patient registration, mobile phlebotomy, centrifuge, and shipment of specimens.

At Mayo Clinic Laboratories, coordination and operationalization of all efforts were shared by multiple teams. Within only nine days, the client account was set up, multiple blood drives were completed, samples were processed, and results were reported to patients.

Amy said, “It was a huge team effort at Mayo Clinic Laboratories–both challenging and educational.”

At 3:45 a.m. on Monday morning, Mayo Clinic Laboratories' Operations Manager Tom Griffin met the first courier at the Rochester, Minnesota airport and drove the samples to Mayo Clinic Laboratories' headquarters, where Internal Operations took over the reins, in receiving, inspecting, accessioning, and processing the samples.

Amy supported the project by facilitating conversations and troubleshooting issues with individuals at Bikur Cholim. Working hard in the trenches were many people at Mayo Clinic Laboratories who ensured that orders were entered properly into the system, reconciled with specimens, and reported accurately.

Amy said, “It was amazing to see all of the pieces of the puzzle coming together for the same goal. When you don’t see patients, you forget that they really need our help. When everything is happening so fast, they give you another breath to keep going. They trust us, and they know that we can support them.”

The story doesn’t end here. The processing of ten thousand additional samples from Bikur Cholim is currently underway.

Mayo Clinic Laboratories

This post was authored by the Marketing Team at Mayo Clinic Laboratories.