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COVID-19 survivors are making a huge impact by donating their plasma

May 28, 2020

Are you eligible to join the effort?

Northwest Community Healthcare (NCH) is looking for COVID-19 survivors who have either been tested for COVID-19 initially or had a presumed positive diagnosis of the virus to donate plasma and have it tested for antibodies.

Plasma is the liquid portion of your blood. It helps with clotting and supports immunity. It contains antibodies that fight off infections, so those who have recovered from coronavirus may have antibodies in their blood plasma that help protect against future infections and can help current patients fighting the disease.

To be eligible for donation, you must be at least 17 years old, weigh at least 110 pounds and be in good health ( i.e., feel well even if you are being treated for a condition).

The need for convalescent plasma donations of all blood types is high and ongoing, and will continue for as long as there is COVID-19. There is still no proven therapy for COVID-19, but convalescent plasma is one of few promising treatments being used.

For the donor, the process of donating convalescent plasma feels the same as donating regular plasma. The process takes a little while longer than donating blood – an average of an hour and 15 minutes.  However, the scientific process of donating plasma is different than donating blood. Plasma is separated from the red blood cells and platelets, which is safely returned to the donor, and the blood bank only keeps the plasma.

Karen Zwicky, M.S., CCRC, Clinical Research Manager at NCH, explains, “Patients must either have had a positive COVID-19 test or a positive antibody test, not both. Unfortunately, the antibody testing may have an out-of-pocket cost to it, so it may not be feasible for everyone to get right now. We are currently referring patients who would like to donate to Versiti™, a local blood bank that NCH uses. There is a prescreening form that needs to be signed by the donor’s physician and a copy of the test results is needed.”

Zwicky adds, “The process can take some time.”

If you are interested in donating your convalescent plasma and potentially saving a life, please send an email to COVID19plasmainfo@nch.org

NCH will guide you through the steps needed and refer you to Versiti™, a company coordinating the convalescent plasma donations. Donors are able to donate convalescent plasma every 28 days if they wish.

While there is no guarantee where your plasma donation will go to help patients, the more donations we have, and the better chance there will be plasma to help our community’s sickest patients.

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