The coronavirus disease has affected thousands of people around the globe. The infection rate in the United States continues to rise. Medications to fight the virus are being adapted and developed, but to date, there is no proven effective anti-viral therapy. Here’s all you need to know about COVID-19 Convalescent plasma and plasma donation.
What is COVID-19 Convalescent Plasma?
COVID-19 Convalescent Plasma refers to the process of using plasma as an experimental treatment for patients with COVID-19 infection. It involves plasma being taken from people who recovered from the coronavirus infection. The plasma has antibodies that have successfully battled SARS-COV 2 virus in a formerly infected individual. Transfusing it into critically ill-patients will help their immune system fight the virus. The treatment is approved by the US Food and Drug Administration. While initially approved for severe or critically-ill patients who meet specific criteria, there are studies designed to treat hospitalized patients earlier in the course of their infection
How Does it Work?
The body’s natural response to help fight viruses or harmful bacteria that enter the body is to create antibodies. An antibody, also known as an immunoglobulin, is a large, Y-shaped protein produced mainly by B lymphocyte plasma cells that are used by the immune system to neutralize pathogens such as bacteria and viruses. Antibodies recognize a unique molecule of the pathogen and are produced by the immune system in response to interaction with a pathogen or vaccine. Antibodies are found in the liquid part of the blood called the plasma.
A person who recovers from COVID-19 still has the antibodies in their plasma. They are present, waiting to fight the virus again. When plasma from someone who recovered from COVID-19 is transfused to another person with the disease, the antibodies target the active SARS-COV 2 virus. The antibodies neutralize the spike proteins of the virus, preventing the virus from attaching to other cells and multiplying.
How to Donate Plasma?
If you have recovered from COVID-19, and have COVID-19 positive test results you can be a convalescent plasma donor. OneBlood is a non-profit organization that works with the Red Cross to facilitate blood and plasma donation. A Oneblood convalescent donor health history form must be completed and certified by a physician. Those who are planning to donate must also meet the required screening criteria for blood donation and FDA criteria which are:
- Prior diagnosis of COVID-19 documented by an FDA approved laboratory test
- A positive diagnostic test at the time of illness or
- A positive FDA approved serological test for SARS-CoV-2 antibodies after recovery
- Complete resolution of symptoms at least 14 days prior to donation and a documented negative COVID-19 FDA approved test or
- Complete resolution of symptoms at least 28 days prior to donation
It will take approximately 24 hours for your donated blood to be processed and to test if the blood meets the FDA requirements. It will be prepared for shipment to a hospital after evaluation.
Your physician will be notified by a healthcare representative if your donated blood doesn’t meet the FDA standards for safe transfusion. You will also be notified if the test results require a follow-up.
Donating Plasma Process:
Your completed application must be submitted to OneBlood, and evaluated by a staff member to determine that all required screening criteria for blood donation have been met. OneBlood will contact you to schedule your collection time and location.
Is It Safe to Donate Plasma?
Plasma donation is similar to blood donation, in that it occurs in a designated, antiseptic environment. Blood is taken out of the body, plasma, the clear liquid portion, is removed from the blood by a cell separator, and the red blood cells and platelets are returned to the donor. The process takes approximately 1 hour, is safe, and typically without side effects of fatigue or pain.
In south Florida, the donor application process is streamlined through Boca Raton Regional Hospital.
Please call the convalescent plasma donation hotline to schedule an appointment: 561-955-3636.
Your plasma can save another COVID-19 patient’s life. The need for plasma is increasing day by day as we treat more people in the hospital, to limit the severity of the disease.