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Blood Donations Screened For Convalescent Plasma To Treat COVID-19 Patients

MURRAY, Utah – In recent months, we shared stories in which doctors used convalescent plasma to treat patients with COVID-19. The American Red Cross is now collecting that antibody-rich plasma from whole blood donations, likely enabling them to expand the program.

This means the Red Cross has a larger pool of blood from which they can collect the convalescent plasma that can be a lifesaver for some COVID-19 patients.

The plasma from whole blood donations made at any Red Cross blood drive or donation center that tests positive for COVID-19 antibodies may now help coronavirus patients in need of a convalescent plasma transfusion.

“Now, not only are we able to find more individuals to donate these products, but we’re able to produce more of those products to be able to make available to patients who might benefit from them,” said Dr. Walter E. Kelley, medical director for the American Red Cross.

During the last five months, doctors across the country have conducted clinical trials, testing the effectiveness of convalescent plasma on patients with serious cases of COVID-19.

Until now, convalescent plasma could only be obtained through a special donation at specific donation centers from a person who had a previously-confirmed case.

The Red Cross then began secondary testing of all donations that came back positive for COVID-19 antibodies.

That means the COVID-19 antibody-positive plasma from whole blood donations may now be used for coronavirus patients.

Tom Cooper is a regular blood donor. He donated blood Friday at the Red Cross center in Murray.

Tom Cooper likes the idea of collecting convalescent plasma from blood donations. (KSL TV)

He called expanding the program a great idea and a good way to give back and serve his community.

His blood did not have the antibodies because he has not had COVID-19, but a relative has.

“We have a niece that had COVID, and she’s donating as often as possible with plasma,” said Cooper.

If you want to help, donate blood at the American Red Cross.

If your plasma has the antibodies, it will be used for the program. If not, the Red Cross still needs that blood for other patients.

“The more people who are coming in to donate, the more plasma is available to use for this specific purpose,” said Kelley. “But it also helps to increase the availability of blood, which nationwide, is at a very low point.”

To make an appointment, download the Red Cross blood donor app or go to redcrossblood.org.

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