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Survived COVID-19? Here’s what it’s like to donate plasma, and why it’s so crucial

'Your plasma may be used to help others fight off the disease'

Blood draws.
Blood draws.

Health experts have identified that plasma received from someone who has survived COVID-19 can be extremely beneficial to others who may contract the virus.

In fact, a campaign posted by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration is hoping to increase donations of convalescent plasma by the end of August to help in the fight against COVID-19.

“Because you fought the infection, your plasma now contains COVID-19 antibodies,” the website says. “These antibodies provided one way for your immune system to fight the virus when you were sick, so your plasma may be able to be used to help others fight off the disease.”

If you’ve received a positive COVID-19 test result, you’re exactly the person wanted for donating convalescent plasma.

Convalescent plasma is the liquid part of blood that is collected from patients who have recovered from COVID-19, according to the FDA. These patients develop antibodies in the blood against the virus, which, in turn, helps those currently suffering from the coronavirus.

A few things to know

If you’re nervous about donating, we thought we’d walk you through exactly what it can look like.

First off, before you head to the donation center, there are a few things you should know:

  • You must have complete resolution of COVID-19 symptoms for at least 14 days before donating.
  • Have a copy of your positive COVID-19 diagnosis to present, if you’re donating for antibody purposes.
  • Make sure you eat a protein-packed meal.

The process

The whole process, from start to finish, can take up to two hours.

  1. You will meet with someone who will do a pre-donation screening. This takes about 15 minutes.
  2. The pressure of your blood will be checked to ensure it is safe for donating.
  3. You will meet with someone who will weigh you and prick your finger to get a sample of your blood. By taking your weight, they will know how much plasma you are eligible to donate. And by taking a sample of your blood, they can separate the plasma quickly to check your iron and red cell blood count. Both must be within a certain range for you to be eligible to donate.
  4. You will answer a series of questions and consent to the donation. This will take about 20 minutes to complete. This is worth noting that these questions can be quite personal, just as they are with any blood donation, but they’re necessary to ensure your safety and the safety of whomever may receive your plasma.
  5. You’ll meet with a medical historian to get your vitals. First-time donors must undergo a brief physical to ensure you are eligible.
  6. You’ll meet with a phlebotomist, who will collect your plasma. This can take anywhere from 30 minutes to an hour.

Each time someone donates, they will be provided a modest compensation. The rate depends on how many times you’ve donated and the location at which you are donating.

More tips

Here are a few tips worth following leading up to and following your donation:

  • Avoid smoking.
  • Avoid drinking alcohol.
  • Avoid fatty foods.
  • Drink plenty of fluids.
  • Eat a healthy meal (remember — plenty of protein!).
  • Skip the donation if you aren’t feeling well.

Donating without COVID-19 diagnosis

Perhaps you haven’t been diagnosed with COVID-19, but you still want to help donate blood or plasma. That’s great, and your donation is needed more than you could imagine.

The FDA says one blood donation can save up to three lives. There have been unprecedented challenges to the U.S. blood supply amid the pandemic. Donation centers have seen a dramatic reduction in donations, as well as the cancellation of blood drives, due to social distancing.

However, measures are in place to make sure this is a safe practice. Only people who are not sick are eligible to donate. All staff is properly gloved and masked.

According to the Red Cross, there is no data or evidence that COVID-19 can be transmissible by blood transfusion, and there have been no cases reported worldwide of transmissions for any respiratory virus, including this coronavirus.

Find your nearest donation center to schedule an appointment.

Other benefits

Besides helping in the fight against COVID-19, plasma can also be used to produce therapies that treat people with rare, chronic diseases and disorders such as primary immunodeficiency, hemophilia and a genetic lung disease, according to DonatingPlasma.com. It can also help in the treatment of trauma, burns and shock.

Click here to learn more about plasma donation.


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