Treating Ebola patients with blood transfusions of survivors is ineffective, study shows

A treatment that emerged during the Ebola outbreak — giving Ebola patients blood transfusions from people who already survived the virus — has been somewhat debunked in a study published in the New England Journal of Medicine.

Researchers conducted a trial of the practice in Guinea. In the study, a group of 84 Ebola patients received two transfusions of plasma from patients who survived Ebola. The control group was 418 patients who had been treated at the same center in earlier months.

In the analysis, patients who received a transfusion had a mortality rate of 31 percent, while the control group's mortality rate was 38 percent. After making risk adjustments, the mortality rate remained lower in the treatment group, but the difference was not as significant.

Overall, the study concludes transfusions were "not associated with a significant improvement in survival." However, study authors also note they "cannot exclude the possibility that some patients will benefit more than others from treatment with convalescent plasma," such as children under 5 years old or pregnant women.

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