WHO recommends using Ebola survivors' blood to treat others

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WHO Recommends Using Ebola Survivors' Blood To Treat Others

The World Health Organization announced Friday it has approved the use of blood transfusions to combat Ebola.

Blood from survivors contains antibodies that could help current patients fight the disease. The decision comes after a two-day meeting of WHO officials in Geneva, where they discussed the use of experimental treatments.

Voice of America quotes the WHO's assistant director-general, who says the organization is moving faster than usual, having developed its latest treatment protocols in just days.

"With any other clinical trial that I know of, you would talk about weeks and months ... The timelines change of all the processes that we know for this particular Ebola outbreak."

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Ebola Slums, Kent Brantly
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WHO recommends using Ebola survivors' blood to treat others
ATLANTA, GA - AUGUST 21: Dr. Kent Brantly speaks during a press conference announcing his release from Emory Hospital on August 21, 2014 in Atlanta, Georgia. Dr. Brantly thanked the medical team, his family and Samaritan's purse for their help in his recovery. Dr. Brantly and another patient, Nancy Writebol, were released from Emory Hospital after receiving treatment for Ebola that they both contracted while working as medical missionaries in Liberia. (Photo by Jessica McGowan/Getty Images)
ATLANTA, GA - AUGUST 21: Dr. Kent Brantly (R), an Ebola patient at Emory Hospital, stands with his wife, Amber Brantly, during a press conference announcing his release from the hospital on August 21, 2014 in Atlanta, Georgia. Dr. Brantly and another patient, Nancy Writebol, were released from Emory Hospital after receiving treatment for Ebola that they both contracted while working as medical missionaries in Liberia. (Photo by Jessica McGowan/Getty Images)
ATLANTA, GA - AUGUST 21: Dr. Kent Brantly (right), stands with his wife, Amber Brantly, during a press conference announcing his release from Emory Hospital on August 21, 2014 in Atlanta, Georgia. Dr. Brantly thanked the medical team, his family and Samaritan's purse for their help in his recovery. Dr. Brantly and another patient, Nancy Writebol, were released from Emory Hospital after receiving treatment for Ebola that they both contracted while working as medical missionaries in Liberia. (Photo by Jessica McGowan/Getty Images)
ATLANTA, GA - AUGUST 21: Dr. Kent Brantly (R), stands with his wife, Amber Brantly, during a press conference announcing his release from Emory Hospital on August 21, 2014 in Atlanta, Georgia. Dr. Brantly thanked the medical team, his family and Samaritan's purse for their help in his recovery. Dr. Brantly and another patient, Nancy Writebol, were released from Emory Hospital after receiving treatment for Ebola that they both contracted while working as medical missionaries in Liberia. (Photo by Jessica McGowan/Getty Images)
ATLANTA, GA - AUGUST 21: Dr. Kent Brantly speaks during a press conference announcing his release from Emory Hospital on August 21, 2014 in Atlanta, Georgia. Dr. Brantly thanked the medical team, his family and Samaritan's purse for their help in his recovery. Dr. Brantly and another patient, Nancy Writebol, were released from Emory Hospital after receiving treatment for Ebola that they both contracted while working as medical missionaries in Liberia. (Photo by Jessica McGowan/Getty Images)
ATLANTA, GA - AUGUST 21: Dr. Kent Brantly (left) and his wife, Amber Brantly, get hugs from the medical team that cared for Dr. Brantly during a press conference announcing his release from Emory Hospital on August 21, 2014 in Atlanta, Georgia. Dr. Brantly thanked the medical team, his family and Samaritan's purse for their help in his recovery. Dr. Brantly and another patient, Nancy Writebol, were released from Emory Hospital after receiving treatment for Ebola that they both contracted while working as medical missionaries in Liberia. (Photo by Jessica McGowan/Getty Images)
ATLANTA, GA - AUGUST 21: Dr. Kent Brantly (L), an Ebola patient at Emory Hospital, enters a press conference behind Dr. Bruce Ribner, to talk about his release from the hospital on August 21, 2014 in Atlanta, Georgia. Dr. Brantly and another patient, Nancy Writebol, were released from Emory Hospital after receiving treatment for Ebola that they both contracted while working as medical missionaries in Liberia. (Photo by Jessica McGowan/Getty Images)
ATLANTA, GA - AUGUST 21: Dr. Kent Brantly (left) looks back at his medical care team during a press conference to discuss his release from Emory Hospital on August 21, 2014 in Atlanta, Georgia. Dr. Brantly and another patient, Nancy Writebol, were released from Emory Hospital after receiving treatment for Ebola that they both contracted while working as medical missionaries in Liberia. (Photo by Jessica McGowan/Getty Images)
ATLANTA, GA - AUGUST 21: Dr. Bruce Ribner (R) announces the release of Ebola patient, Dr. Kent Brantly (2L) with wife, Amber, during a press conference on August 21, 2014 in Atlanta, Georgia. Dr. Brantly and another patient, Nancy Writebol, were released from Emory Hospital after receiving treatment for Ebola that they both contracted while working as medical missionaries in Liberia. (Photo by Jessica McGowan/Getty Images)
ATLANTA, GA - AUGUST 21: Dr. Kent Brantly gives a hug to Dr. Bruce Ribner during a press conference announcing his release from Emory Hospital on August 21, 2014 in Atlanta, Georgia. Dr. Brantly thanked the medical team, his family and Samaritan's purse for their help in his recovery. Dr. Brantly and another patient, Nancy Writebol, were released from Emory Hospital after receiving treatment for Ebola that they both contracted while working as medical missionaries in Liberia. (Photo by Jessica McGowan/Getty Images)
ATLANTA, GA - AUGUST 21: Dr. Kent Brantly (left) and his wife, Amber Brantly (right), get hugs from the medical team, including Dr. George Lyon (center, white jacket) that cared for Dr. Brantly during a press conference announcing his release from Emory Hospital on August 21, 2014 in Atlanta, Georgia. Dr. Brantly thanked the medical team, his family and Samaritan's purse for their help in his recovery. Dr. Brantly and another patient, Nancy Writebol, were released from Emory Hospital after receiving treatment for Ebola that they both contracted while working as medical missionaries in Liberia. (Photo by Jessica McGowan/Getty Images)
ATLANTA, GA - AUGUST 21: Dr. Kent Brantly (center) stands with his wife, Amber Brantly, and Dr. Bruce Ribner (right) during a press conference announcing his release from Emory Hospital on August 21, 2014 in Atlanta, Georgia. Dr. Brantly thanked the medical team, his family and Samaritan's purse for their help in his recovery. Dr. Brantly and another patient, Nancy Writebol, were released from Emory Hospital after receiving treatment for Ebola that they both contracted while working as medical missionaries in Liberia. (Photo by Jessica McGowan/Getty Images)
ATLANTA, GA - AUGUST 21: Dr. Kent Brantly (R), an Ebola patient at Emory Hospital, stands with his wife, Amber Brantly, during a press conference announcing his release from the hospital on August 21, 2014 in Atlanta, Georgia. Dr. Brantly and another patient, Nancy Writebol, were released from Emory Hospital after receiving treatment for Ebola that they both contracted while working as medical missionaries in Liberia. (Photo by Jessica McGowan/Getty Images)
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The WHO blames Ebola for nearly 4,000 infections in West Africa since the outbreak began in March. So far the disease is known to have killed over 1,200 people. And while transfusions could help combat the disease, they're no guarantee.

ABC reports Kent Brantly, an aid worker who contracted and later recovered from the virus, received a blood transfusion from a child donor who had also survived.

But he also received the experimental Ebola drug ZMapp. At this point, doctors simply aren't sure which treatment was most effective.

And as of Friday, the WHO says it still hasn't officially tested ZMapp or other drugs for viability. A Forbes columnist says "the consensus was that it was too early to deploy these even for human safety studies."

Affected regions, meanwhile, are taking drastic steps to cut down on the spread of Ebola. Al Jazeera reports Sierra Leone is preparing to institute a three-day countrywide curfew later this month.

Citizens will be "confined to their homes" starting September 18 to prevent disease transmission and to give aid workers time to spot and address new cases.

The WHO says more rigorous trials of experimental drugs will begin as soon as pharmaceutical companies can turn out enough supply.
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