Community members are urged to answer the call to help others battling the coronavirus by offering a donation of plasma.
The South Texas Blood and Tissue Center and Guadalupe Regional Medical Center are asking area residents to donate convalescent plasma for patients who are hospitalized due to the coronavirus.
Convalescent plasma contains the COVID-19 antibody — a protein that exists in the blood and plasma of recovered patients — and recent studies suggest this plasma may be able to help those with severe cases in their fight, according to the South Texas Blood and Tissue Center website. A study by Houston Methodist stated that convalescent plasma benefits almost 75% of those receiving transfusion, a release read.
“The call really is for people in our area that have already had this disease and recovered from it to donate,” said GRMC Hospitalist Dr. Sarah Lester. “Hopefully, that will help our patients who are currently sick in the hospital to get that plasma sooner so they can benefit from it as well.”
GRMC is part of a national study through the Mayo Clinic in which the hospital receives convalescent plasma to then transfuse into patients with severe cases of coronavirus, but due to low units available in the area, sometimes they have to wait for it to come from different parts of the country, Lester said.
“If it’s given early on while people are at the beginning stages of being sick, it seems like it helps a lot,” Lester said. “It decreases the length of stay in the hospital and helps improve mortality, but because so many people across the country are sick with COVID-19, it’s taking a long time for us to get that plasma [to GRMC] and in many cases it’s coming as far away as New York City.”
As of Thursday, the South Texas Blood and Tissue Center has shipped a total of 3,872 units of convalescent plasma to hospitals, 2,272 of those in July alone, with more than 400 donors in the area stepping up to help fellow community members, the release from the South Texas Blood and Tissue Center stated. They have had several “super-donors” that have donated multiple units, but over time, antibody concentration decreases, so new donors are needed, the release stated.
Anyone who has fully recovered from coronavirus may be eligible to donate, and a blood test is performed to see if there are enough antibodies in the plasma for a usable dose, the release read.
“From a doctor’s standpoint, donating is fairly painless and easy, and is something you can do that can help your community with no personal risk to yourself,” Lester said.
Donated blood at the South Texas Blood & Tissue Center will also receive the antibody test free through Aug. 1.
Donators must not have had symptoms of coronavirus for 14 days prior to their donation, and can find more information on FDA guidelines at SouthTexasBlood.org/covid19 .
To see if your plasma could help save lives, email COVID19@SouthTexasBlood.com .