Community non-profit blood center Blood Assurance is collecting plasma donations from recovered COVID-19 donors to be used as an investigational treatment for hospitalized COVID-19 patients. As the demand for this treatment increases in hospitals across their service area, Blood Assurance is in desperate need for more plasma donors.
“Persons who have recovered from COVID-19 infection have proteins circulating in their blood, called antibodies, that may help patients who actively have the disease to fight off the virus and prevent or slow down viral multiplication,” said Dr. Jigme Sethi, a critical care pulmonologist at Erlanger Health System. “The liquid portion of the blood that contains these antibodies is called plasma.”
COVID-19 convalescent plasma is an FDA investigational treatment where plasma is transfused from a recovered COVID-19 donor into a current COVID-19 patient.
“Several reports suggest that convalescent plasma may prevent patients from getting sicker or reduce the time to recovery,” added Dr. Sethi. “Mayo Clinic has reported results from such transfusions in 20,000 patients with COVID- 19 disease. The risk of serious side effects was very low, and there were some signs it reduced death rates although this has not been conclusively proven. Convalescent plasma is an important, but as yet experimental, therapy for treating patients with COVID-19 disease.”
Blood Assurance is collecting, processing and sending the donated plasma to hospitals where it is given to patients. “We are seeing a spike in demand for this potentially life-saving treatment from hospitals across the nation and right here in our communities,” said Dr. Elizabeth Culler, medical director at Blood Assurance. “We need donors who meet the requirements to give convalescent plasma for our patients in need.”
To donate convalescent plasma for patients in need, donors must have been officially diagnosed with COVID-19, must pass all standard requirements to give plasma and must be symptom free for 14 days.
To see if you meet requirements to be a convalescent plasma donor or if you are a clinician interested in convalescent plasma, Blood Assurance urges you to visit www.bloodassurance.org/covidplasma. Blood Assurance offers information in Spanish as well. If you would like to speak to a Spanish representative regarding convalescent plasma, please call 752-8459.
If you believe you had COVID-19 but did not get tested, you may donate whole blood and receive an antibody test free of charge, in lieu of a donor gift. If you test positive for the antibodies, you could be a candidate for donating convalescent plasma.
To be eligible to donate blood, you must be at least 17 years old (16 years old with parental consent), weigh 110 pounds or more and be in good health. Donors are asked to drink plenty of fluids — avoiding caffeine — and eat a meal that is rich in iron prior to donating.