NEW IBERIA, La. (KLFY) — Iberia Medical Center has saved nearly 200 lives with a new coronavirus treatment for high-risk patients.
79-year-old Jim Bigler and his 77-year-old wife, a stroke-survivor bound to a wheelchair, are two of the many survivors.
“When somebody tells you that you got the virus, that it’s a positive test, it kind of hits you like a hammer,” Jim Bigler said.
When he and his wife tested positive for the coronavirus in early January, they expected to experience complications.
Two days later, the couple ended up at Iberia Medical Center, where doctors asked if they wanted to try a new treatment for high-risk patients called Monoclonal Antibody Infusion Therapy.
They said yes, and the Biglers each received a one-hour IV infusion.
“Except for being tired and out of wind, I had no sensation of being sick after the treatment,” Bigler said.
Soon after, the Biglers were able to go home.
The virus never progressed, and the couple never developed any life-threatening complications.
The Biglers are two of many high-risk coronavirus patients who have seen success with the treatment since Iberia Medical Center began administering it two months ago.
“I am very, very optimistic. When you look at a list of 200 patients who are high-risk who got the infusion, and only four or five of them end up in the hospital, that’s amazing,” Medical Director of the COVID-19 program at Iberia Medical Center, Dr. Moses Kitakule, said.
He says the Monoclonal Antibody Infusion Therapy is a concentration of antibodies.
The antibodies are made in a lab, put into an IV, and given to patients as an infusion for one hour.
“If you are unable to defend yourself, you have an ally. The infusion is basically an ally to the patient, trying to protect them before the virus gets out of control,” Dr. Kitakule said.
He says when COVID-19 enters your body, the virus attaches to your cells and spreads.
The antibodies in the infusion therapy stop the infected cells from spreading.
“What they do is they help reduce the amount of the virus. It’s like having soldiers come to fight on your behalf,” Dr. Kitakule said.
He says if high-risk patients receive the antibody infusion before complications start, the virus won’t be able to take over the body.
“Those who are high risk, those with diabetes, people above the age of 65, people with lung problems, kidney problems, high blood pressure, who are morbidly obese, those are the people you want to catch very, very early,” he explained. “You basically are trying to intervene before the body has a chance to fail.”
The treatment worked for Jim Bigler and his wife. He’s thankful the treatment gave them a chance of survival.