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WELL-BEING AND COMMUNITY

Blood Plasma Donations to Help COVID-19 Patients

August 31, 2020

If you are among the more than 3 million Americans1 who have recovered from COVID-19, your plasma has developed antibodies, proteins the body uses to fight off infections.2 These antibodies may provide protective immunity to treat others with COVID-19.
 
What is blood plasma and why is it important?
Blood plasma takes nutrients, hormones, and proteins to the parts of the body that need it. Convalescent plasma is the blood plasma from people who have recovered from COVID-19. According to the Mayo Clinic, convalescent plasma therapy is an experimental treatment that doctors are using to treat people with severe COVID-19. Researchers hope that convalescent plasma can help boost the ability to fight off the virus. It may also help protect those infected from severe COVID-19 complications.2
 
How is blood plasma used for COVID-19?
Currently, there is no approved treatment for COVID-19 and further research can help determine if convalescent plasma may work.3 There are many new programs specifically focused on increasing blood plasma donations from people who have had COVID-19. For example, Anthem is part of a coalition of leading organizations that partner with The Fight Is In Us to help find new treatments for patients with COVID-19.
 
To help ensure their blood plasma contains enough antibodies to make a positive impact, COVID-19 survivors can donate their plasma within two months of their recovery. A plasma donation can benefit those who are currently sick with COVID-19 and can help address the expected seasonal increase in COVID-19 cases projected by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and other public health experts.
 
The coalition partners are working on two approaches for treating COVID-19: the direct transfusion of blood plasma and the development of a medicine known as hyperimmune globulin (H-Ig). Clinical trials to study this medicine start this summer.
 
Donating blood plasma to help others with COVID-19
Plasma donation is a safe, simple process performed by professionally trained staff in a highly regulated and sterile environment.
 
If you decide to donate blood plasma, this is the process you can expect, according to The Fight Is In Us:
  1. Eligibility – to meet donor criteria, you must have had COVID-19 documented by an antibody test, laboratory test, or clinical diagnosis. You must be fully recovered for at least two weeks.
  2. Registration at the donor center, you will need to show proof of identification and share your contact information. Some centers may have more requirements. All information is confidential.
  3. Screening after you register, you will go through a brief medical history and exam to check your blood pressure, pulse, and body temperature. This helps ensure the donation is safe for you and the people who may receive your plasma.
  4. Donation process once you meet eligibility requirements, you will move to a donation area where you can rest as the automated machine collects your plasma. The staff will continue to monitor you throughout the donation process. You will be at least six feet from other donors to help keep you safe. You may also receive personal protective equipment.
  5. Plasma collection donating plasma is similar to giving blood. It starts with a needle placed into the vein in your arm. Then an automated process separates plasma from other blood components and returns your red blood cells and platelets to you. This process continues until a certain amount of plasma is collected.
How to donate your plasma
Even if you did not have COVID-19, consider donating blood. To donate blood or convalescent plasma in your area, check out these resources:
Healthy bodies continually regenerate blood, so you may only need to wait a few weeks between donations, depending on what you donate. Donating blood or plasma is one way you can help save lives and take care of your friends, family, and neighbors.
 
1 Worldometer: United States Recoveries (accessed August 21, 2020): worldometers.info.
2 Mayo Clinic: Convalescent plasma therapy (accessed June 28, 2020): mayoclinic.org.
3 U.S. Food and Drug Administration: Donate COVID-19 Plasma (accessed June 28, 2020): fda.gov.

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