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Indiana doctor advises against experimental method to treat long COVID

INDIANAPOLIS (WISH) — Some COVID long-haulers are turning to a controversial method to treat their lasting symptoms. 

Blood washing is a technique where a person’s blood is drawn, filtered for the purpose of removing toxins, and then injected back into his or her body.

Theoretically, scientists say, it makes sense. Blood washing may have the potential to remove dangerous circulating microclots and other damaging cells that could be contributing to long-haul symptoms.

News 8 spoke with Dr. Sachin Mehta, medical director of neurorehabilitation at Franciscan Health, who tells News 8 why he does not recommend blood washing. 

“It’s not really proven to be beneficial,” he said. “We know that these microclots exist, but we don’t know if the microclots are causing the long COVID, or just happen to be some sort of sign that long COVID is present. So, removing these microclots may not improve symptoms. We just don’t know enough about it.”

Mehta also says blood washing is expensive; insurance doesn’t cover it. However, there are alternative ways to tackle long COVID that have proven effective. 

He says active rehabilitation programs involving physical, occupational and cognitive therapy are shown to help patients recover from fatigue, shortness of breath, and brain fog among other COVID long-haul symptoms.