FAIRFIELD, NJ – In coordination with the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA), the Red Cross is seeking people who are fully recovered from the coronavirus to sign up to donate plasma to help current COVID-19 patients, according to the Red Cross website.
People who have fully recovered from COVID-19 have antibodies in their plasma that can attack the virus. This convalescent plasma is being evaluated as treatment for patients with serious or immediately life-threatening COVID-19 infections, or those judged by a healthcare provider to be at high risk of progression to severe or life-threatening disease.
Greek-American Rebecca Pappas, a New Providence resident and rising senior at the University of Notre Dame, recently donated plasma at the Red Cross facility in Fairfield, Tap into Berkeley Heights reported on May 24, adding that Pappas “had tested positive for the virus in mid-March and recently tested positive for having the antibodies.”
With her appointment scheduled for May 11, Pappas was one of the first to donate plasma at that Red Cross location, Tap reported.
Pappas told Tap, “The blood donation process was relatively straightforward. As soon as I got my positive antibody results back, I filled out the plasma donor questionnaire on the American Red Cross’ website. About four days later, a representative from the Red Cross called me and asked more screening questions to confirm my eligibility to donate. This took about 10 minutes. To conclude the phone call, the representative asked me to choose from a set of appointment dates over the next couple weeks.”
At the appointment, Pappas told Tap that the nurse did, “all the pre-screening that would be necessary for a classic blood donation,” and “also walked her through what the plasma donation process would look and feel like and potential side effects.”
Pappas explained in the Tap article, “The donation felt a bit different from a classic blood donation due to the nature of a plasma donation. During a plasma donation, blood is taken out of the body, the plasma is separated from the blood, and then the blood is pumped back into the body. A classic blood donation only includes the initial extraction of blood but does not entail the re-pumping of blood back into the body. It was about as painful as donating blood, and by painful, I mean slightly uncomfortable, but completely tolerable for someone with a moderate pain tolerance.”
Pappas told Tap, “I am glad that I was able to do something like this and that it is going to have a real impact on other people. It feels good. To those who are eligible to donate and are considering, I would encourage you to do so because it is a relatively simple and painless process and you could help save up to three lives. Aside from helping the critically ill, antibody-rich plasma could aid the research being done on COVID-19.”
More information about the qualifications for recovered COVID-19 patients donating plasma is available on the Red Cross website: https://www.redcrossblood.org/donate-blood/dlp/plasma-donations-from-recovered-covid-19-patients.html.