A woman from Cardiff has become the first person in Wales to receive the same Covid-19 treatment that saw US President Donald Trump recover rapidly from the virus.

Melanie James, from the Pontprennau area of the Welsh capital, was admitted to the University Hospital Llandough near Penarth having tested positive for coronavirus.

While there, she received a transfusion of monoclonal antibodies.

The same experimental treatment was given to Donald Trump when he was hospitalised in Washington earlier this month. He was released a few days later.

Mrs James, who is now recovering at home after being discharged from hospital, received the transfusion as part of the Randomised Evaluation of Covid-19 Therapy (Recovery) clinical trial, the world’s largest randomised controlled clinical trial in the battle against coronavirus.

Melanie James, from Cardiff, is the first patient in Wales to receive a transfusion of monoclonal antibodies to treat Covid-19
University Hospital Llandough
Donald Trump stands on the Truman Balcony after returning to the White House
Donald Trump stands on the Truman Balcony after returning to the White House following his treatment for coronavirus

The aim of that trial is to discover the effectiveness of monoclonal antibodies, which scientists hope can prevent Covid-19 from entering humans cells and thus causing them to become more seriously ill.

Mrs James said she was breathless and receiving oxygen at the point when she received the transfusion, but then her symptoms started to improve.

“There was never any doubt in my mind about taking part in this research trial,” she said.

“I felt very poorly and had deteriorated very quickly, and I wanted to get better and to help other people to get better. We’re in the dark about Covid-19 and I wanted to give something back.

“I was very well informed about the trial before I consented to taking part. All of my questions were answered and the team put me at ease and gave me time to think. I felt that the team knew exactly what they were doing and saying, and I totally trusted them from the start of the process.

“I can’t speak highly enough of the treatment and care that I received from everybody involved, from clinical staff to the cleaners and those who offered me a drink. Everyone was so caring and kind so it made me feel really pleased to take part in the research.

“I started to feel better the day after the transfusion, and I only had a small amount of oxygen during that night. Although I’m still recovering, I already feel much better than I did a week ago.”

Research team lead Zoe Hilton, research nurse Jennie Williams and pharmacist Manon Richards have been implementing a Monoclonal Antibodies trial with the support of ward staff at University Hospital Llandough

Cardiff and Vale University Health Board, which runs and manages the University Hospital Llandough, has played a significant part in the trial, becoming the first health board in the UK to take part back in March. The health board has since recruited 210 patients to the trial, something it described as “incredibly exciting”.

“We’re delighted to have recruited the first patient in Wales to this new arm of the Recovery trial,” said research team lead, Zoe Hilton.

“It is incredibly exciting to be working at the forefront of important work to identify potentially effective treatments for Covid-19, and I am hugely proud of research colleagues across Cardiff and Vale UHB for their tireless efforts in bringing this latest development to fruition.

“We are delighted that Melanie is feeling better, and wish her all the best with her ongoing recovery at home, however, it is important to acknowledge that this arm of the trial remains in its very early stages and the widespread effectiveness of this treatment isn’t yet known.

“I’d like to extend the health board’s thanks to Melanie, and indeed all of our patients who have participated in clinical trials throughout the pandemic, for the vital contribution they have made to seeking effective treatments for Covid-19.”

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Dr Stuart Walker, executive medical director of Cardiff and Vale University Health Board, said: “Our research teams have made an outstanding contribution throughout the Covid-19 pandemic, and I would like to commend their efforts in implementing this trial so proactively.

“We are watching the ongoing global research into Covid-19 with great interest, in the hope that we are able to act upon further positive developments in the coming months.

“In the meantime, I would once again urge members of the public to play their part in controlling Covid-19 infection rates by following government guidance, and ensuring that they continue to wash their hands regularly for at least 20 seconds, wear a face mask in all indoor public spaces, and keep a two metre distance from others.”