Adam Cohen said he’s in a desperate race to save his brother, David Behrbom, a 47-year-old father of two who is in the ICU at White Plains Hospital Center after having tested positive for COVID-19 Sunday.
The illness was the second blow for the family. Behrbom, who teaches at PS 55 in the Bronx and lives in Ardsley, was diagnosed with leukemia on March 12. He underwent five days of chemotherapy beginning March 20, which weakened his immune system, Cohen said.
He is now in a medically induced coma and his organs are failing, his brother said.
Behrbom’s only hope may be treatment with the plasma of someone who has recovered from the coronavirus and may help him fight it off.
This so-called convalescent plasma therapy is now undergoing clinical trials in New York and elsewhere.
The Montefiore Health System, to which White Plains Hospital belongs, is even conducting one of the clinical trials using plasma from those who belong to Young Israel of New Rochelle, an early center of the outbreak.
Behrbom did not qualify for the clinical trial.
But through appeals on social media, Cohen managed to line up donors who were eager to help his brother. He said Behrbom’s doctor applied to the Food and Drug Administration to allow for “compassionate use” of the plasma treatment and expected to get approval.
The plasma donation would be collected and processed by the New York Blood Center in Manhattan. But White Plains Hospital does not have a contract with the blood center for the plasma donations, and Cohen said its blood bank refused to write the necessary order to do it.
Cohen, who also lives in Ardsley, said he was heartened by the people willing to help his brother.
“It’s, of all things, a hospital standing in the way of this,” he said.
After The Post contacted the hospital, Cohen said he heard from a hospital official late Saturday afternoon that it would allow the procedure to go forward. But Cohen said he’s lost time.
“What good is this if it’s going to be too late?” he asked.
White Plains Hospital said because of patient privacy it could not provide specific information on the case.
“Like all hospitals across the country, we are actively exploring all treatment options for our patients diagnosed with the COVID-19 virus, including convalescent plasma therapy,” the hospital said in a statement.