Research continues to evolve to help treat patients with COVID-19. One potential treatment is convalescent plasma. Researchers hope that this type of plasma may help infected patients speed up the recovery process, reduce morbidity or prevent death associated with COVID-19.
What is convalescent plasma?
Plasma is the liquid portion of your blood, which consists mainly of water, proteins and antibodies. If you contract a virus, your immune system typically creates antibodies to help fight the infection, which stay in your plasma after you recover. This is known as convalescent plasma. So, if you had COVID-19, your plasma still has the antibodies that fought off the virus.
How does it help fight COVID-19?
By donating your COVID-19 convalescent plasma (CCP), you may be able to help someone currently fighting the virus. The infection-fighting antibodies in plasma can be extracted from other blood components during a donation. There are then two ways in which your plasma donation may be used:
- The plasma will be transfused directly to a sick patient to help boost their immune system and speed up recovery.
- It can be sent for use in clinical trials to develop a potential plasma-derived medication.
Who can donate?
If you’ve tested positive for COVID-19, you must fully recover before donating CCP. This means you must be symptom-free for at least 14 days.
You will also need to pass a screening to check your temperature, blood pressure and pulse rate. This is done to ensure the donation is safe for both you and the recipients of the plasma.
What to expect while donating plasma?
Once you are confirmed eligible, you’ll be able to continue with the donation and plasma collection process, which is relatively simple. While resting on a donor bed, blood will be drawn from your arm by a machine. The machine will automatically separate the plasma from other blood components, then returns your red blood cells and platelets to you. This will continue until the target amount of plasma is collected, which may take around two hours. You may experience mild pain from the prick of the needle, but it’s non-invasive and will allow you to resume normal activity following the donation.
To find out more or find your nearest AABB-accredited blood donation site to find out where they are collecting convalescent plasma, click here.
As part of UnitedHealth Group’s efforts to fight the pandemic, the company donated funds and is collaborating with Mayo Clinic to help research convalescent plasma treatments for COVID-19 patients.
“Research indicates convalescent plasma holds promise,” UnitedHealth Group Chief Medical Officer Dr. Richard Migliori said. “We are asking people who have recovered from COVID-19 to please come forward to see if they might be a good candidate to donate plasma. Because many people may have had COVID-19 and not known, we are encouraging people to find out if they are eligible to donate. We know people want to help, and this is one way to do it.”