Long COVID patients going broke, traveling overseas for unproven ‘blood washing’ treatment

‘People could potentially go bankrupt accessing these treatments, for which there is limited to no evidence of effectiveness.’

LONDON — An experimental treatment for people dealing with long COVID may be doing more harm than good, at least from a financial perspective. Investigators with the British Medical Journal say people are spending thousands of dollars and traveling to foreign countries with the hope that “blood washing” can cure them of the lingering symptoms of COVID-19.

The technical term for the procedure is apheresis. It’s a blood-filtering treatment which doctors normally use on patients with lipid disorders who don’t respond to medication or anti-clotting therapies.

Recently, private clinics in Cyprus, Germany, and Switzerland have started offering blood washing treatments to patients with long COVID — despite little scientific evidence that the invasive procedure actually reduces COVID-related symptoms.

How does apheresis work?

‘Blood washing’ involves a needle going into each of the patient’s arms. From there, blood coming out of one vein passes through a filter that separates the red blood cells from the plasma. The procedure filters the plasma before recombining it with the blood cells and returning it to the other vein.

So, why would long COVID patients think this treatment could cure them? Study authors say there is some existing research which suggests that “microclots” in a COVID patient’s blood plasma may be what’s causing their symptoms to linger for weeks and even months. However, BMJ researchers add it’s far from certain if microclots are the true cause of long COVID, or just another symptom.

That isn’t stopping people from trying apheresis though. Investigators with The BMJ and ITV News spoke with several people who’ve tried blood washing — discovering that patients are receiving mixed results.

‘I’d have sold my house and given it away to get better, without a second thought’

Gitte Boumeester, a trainee psychiatrist in the Netherlands, had to quit her job in November 2021 due to the debilitating after-effects of her coronavirus infection. Boumeester says she found out about apheresis from a Facebook group for long COVID patients.

She spent more than $50,000 on treatments at The Long Covid Center in Cyprus before returning home with no improvement in her symptoms, according to the study. This included six rounds of apheresis, nine sessions of hyperbaric oxygen therapy, and an intravenous vitamin drip at a private clinic next door to The Long Covid Center.

Study authors add that Boumeester also had to sign a consent form, which lawyers and clinicians describe as “inadequate,” and was also asked to purchase hydroxychloroquine before her treatment began — in case of coronavirus reinfection.

“We as a clinic do neither advertise, nor promote. We accept patients that have microcirculation issues and want to be treated with HELP apheresis… If a patient needs a prescription, it is individually assessed by our doctor or the patient is referred to other specialized doctors where needed,” Marcus Klotz, co-founder of the Long Covid Center, tells The BMJ in a media release.

Conversely, Dr. Beate Jaeger, an internal medicine doctor, started treating long COVID patients with apheresis at her clinic in Germany in February 2021. Jaeger says she started working with blood washing after reading reports that COVID can cause blood clotting.

The doctor admits that apheresis is only experimental, but says scientific trials take too long to complete. According to Jaeger, her clinic treats thousands of long COVID patients, with success stories spreading on social media.

To date, there are no complaints about Jaeger filed with the North Rhine Medical Association, The BMJ reports.

Chris Witham, a businessman and long COVID patient from Great Britain spent over $8,300 on apheresis treatments and travel costs to Germany.

“I’d have sold my house and given it away to get better, without a second thought,” Witham says.

The treatment could leave some bankrupt without a cure

Although some are willing to pay anything to get rid of long COVID, some experts are fearful that apheresis can’t deliver on its promises and will leave many patients worse off than they are now.

“It’s unsurprising that people who were previously highly functioning, who are now debilitated, can’t work, can’t financially support themselves, would seek treatments elsewhere,” says the University of Birmingham’s Shamil Haroon, a clinical lecturer in primary care.

“It’s a completely rational response to a situation like this. But people could potentially go bankrupt accessing these treatments, for which there is limited to no evidence of effectiveness.”

Study authors have also found that many people are setting up GoFundMe pages to raise the funds for their apheresis treatments and associated travel costs.

There’s still no official treatment for long COVID

The World Health Organization (WHO) estimates that between 10 and 20 percent of COVID-19 patients suffer from long COVID for at least two months after their infection.

Although studies have found over 200 symptoms tied to the condition, the most common lingering symptoms include fatigue, muscle weakness, breathing and sleep difficulties, memory problems, anxiety or depression, chest pains, and loss of smell or taste.

Currently, there is no official treatment for long COVID. Until scientists work out the exact cause of the condition, experts say it’s unwise to target microclots without more knowledge.

“They [microclots] may be a biomarker for disease, but how do we know they are causal?” says Robert Ariens, a professor of vascular biology at the University of Leeds School of Medicine.

“If we don’t know the mechanisms by which the microclots form and whether or not they are causative of disease, it seems premature to design a treatment to take the microclots away, as both apheresis and triple anticoagulation are not without risks, the obvious one being bleeding.”

The report is published in The BMJ.

Comments

    1. I took ivermectin. Not vaccinated. I’m so weak and tired. This long Covid is real for some people.

      1. Carol, have you gone to the Front Line Doctors page or Dr. Zelensky’s treatment? In addition to Ivermectin, Vitamin D, C, Zinc, Quercitin, Melatonin, and a baby aspirin a day. They provide the quantities to take and I believe Magnesium as well as other therapeutics. Good luck and God Bless.

      2. Wow, I thought it was the vax causing the long covid. Prayers for you. I was telling my wife about this earlier today. People losing their jobs and theres no disability for long covid, it doesn’t exist and it’s never caused by a vax. Can’t believe this is happening in our country.

    2. I had long COVID and Ivermectin killed it dead for me. I was and am incredibly grateful as I would not want to go through life like that and understand why desperate people are doing desperate things.

  1. What worked for me is an intense keto diet for a few months focusing on Omega 3s to give your brain it’s best chance of rebuilding itself. Flax and chia seeds, cacao nibs, cold water fish, and a mind toward reducing Omega 6s and other inflammatories. But I had serious mental decline for months after covid and extreme fatigue and this dietary change pulled me out of it.

      1. Not true. I’m Unvaxxed and long covid. I’m still working on it-I did have plenty of antibodies a year later!
        But I’d take this over known adverse effects vs “to come” from experimental jab. So sad!

    1. I was unvaccinated, but I caught it from someone who was freshly vaxxed. For all I know his shedding of his proteins around my home is what caused my long COVID. I have no way of knowing for sure, of course.

  2. More propaganda to keep alive the fake coronavirus “pandemic”.

    If anyone is getting sick from anything related to COVID-19, it is from the “vaccine” itself. It is a perfect cover — just attribute vaccine-related injuries to the latest “variant” of COVID-19, and use that as the excuse to demand more vaccination. . .

    1. then why were 70% of the deaths from Covid from those who REFUSED to have the vaccine? There were multiple stories daily of bitter opponents who, on the death bed, said they’d been fools for not taking the vaccine.

      1. Most deaths are now in the vaccinated. This does not include those who have been injured by the shots.

      2. Look above at Carol, long covid is not from the vax as I also thought. Most non vax died from being tubed, they know if they tube you , you will most likely die. They haven’t treated people with the proper meds, so they die. They want that, scary numbers. But this whole thing is man made, this is bill gates idea, kill people off through vaccines!!! The US and china made covid, it doesn’t kill as well as thought so they don’t use proper treatment and wa la you die! For the survivors they made the vax! Emerald Robbins has it all right here… https://emeralddb3.substack.com/p/the-global-vaccine-nightmare-has Most people now have inflamed hearts and era dropping dead while young and healthy!!

      3. For a start they very cunningly classed the first 2 weeks after vaccination as the unvaccinated therefore fooling the easily fooled.

  3. This is crazy, I am an Transfusion Medicine doctor and run an apheresis outpatient clinic right in Boca Raton Florida, no need for people to go broke traveling the world for this stuff you can find it at clinics like mine. millerbioconnect.com

  4. Those who took the shot have programed their bodies to produce spike protein. You can’t fix that. I feel bad for all of you, but you should’ve exercised some skepticism and critical thought before you obediently got into line for the shots.

  5. Long covid aka vaccine poisoning? The only folks I know that keep getting covid or are having long term problems got the jab. Those that didn’t mostly either had cold symptoms or never knew they were sick. Stick sick as we call it. Only know you’re “sick” because the stick says so.

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