Dr. Matthew McClain, a 2000 MCG graduate and a radiologist with Rome Radiology in Northwest Georgia, did not envision becoming a local principle investigator in a national trial led by the Mayo Clinic to investigate the use of convalescent plasma therapy for Covid-19 patients when he noted the numbers associated with a novel coronavirus outbreak in China early in January.
As he watched the virus spread into Europe, Dr. McClain wondered whether convalescent plasma therapy, first introduced in the 1800s and used during the Spanish Flu Pandemic of 1918, could help save lives. In February, he began to write an Investigational New Drug (IND) application to submit to the FDA, and as the pandemic reached U.S. shores, he opened conversations with local hospitals, sharing the idea that convalescent therapy could be both beneficial and deployable on a local scale.
“It was not easy getting people to listen to a radiologist on this subject,” Dr. McClain acknowledged. He began to build a local coalition beginning with Rome Radiology president Kirk Kizziah, MD, and including retired radiologist Bill Harbin, MD, John Hostetler, MD, an infectious disease specialist, Ann Hook, the former oncology services director at Redmond Regional Medical Center (RRMC), and Gary Voccio, MD, director of the Northwest Georgia Public Health District.