Why COVID-19 survivors should donate plasma to help save lives

Photo by Cleyton Ewerton on Pexels.com

If you are a COVID-19 survivor, you possess a gift you may not be aware of.

It’s the gift of life in the form of convalescent plasma.

Giving this gift is not a simple process. It requires some work on your part, and may take you out of your comfort zone, but the adventure is worth it.

The adventure begins by going to CSL Plasma or calling 1-866-275-6800. After reviewing the website to answer most of my questions, I called the CSL hotline and spoke to a woman named Hope, a Patient Coordination/COVID-19 Consortium for Leapcure/CSL Plasma. She reassured me the process was safe and helped guide me to a nearby donation center.

If it weren’t for Hope, I probably would not have gone through with the visit, in which donations are taken on a walk-in basis. While I had donated blood numerous times, I had never donated plasma before, and I was scared of the unknown. Hearing the facts from Hope helped ease my mind.

Here are some facts that may help ease your mind should you decide donate:

What is blood plasma?

According to thefightisinus.org, a coalition of global-leading medical and research institutions, “Plasma is the liquid portion of your blood which can be easily replaced by your body. It consists of water, proteins, and antibodies that help your body to function. If you have survived COVID-19 then your plasma includes antibodies that could help others fight the virus.”

How is blood plasma used?

According to the fightisinus.org, “Plasma from those who have recovered could be a key part of the fight against COVID-19.” When COVID-19 plasma is donated, it may either be directly transfused into patients or be used to make a potential medicine.

Is it safe?

In a video released by the United States Department of Health and Human Services, U.S. Surgeon General urges COVID-19 to consider donating plasma. In the video, he states, “Current research shows that convalescent plasma is safe and, when it’s given early and contains a high concentration of antibodies, it can help improve a patient’s chances of recovery.” While studies continue, the Food and Drug Administration has sanctioned the emergency use of COVID-19 plasma based on review of current scientific facts.

Does it work?

According to findings by Mayo Clinic researchers and collaborators there is “an association between administration of convalescent plasma containing high antibodies and lower mortality rates for hospitalized patients with COVID-19 who are not on ventilators.” The article, “Convalescent Plasma Antibody Levels and the Risk of Death from Covid-19,” was released by the New England Journal of Medicine.

According to the article, passive antibody transfer has been used to treat respiratory infections dating back to the 1918 influenza pandemic. The current pandemic sparked renewed interest in the use of convalescent plasma.

Despite the strides made in current research, studies remain inconclusive. That does not mean we should stop trying. Instead, we should join the fight.

You can make a difference

For each donation I made to CSL, I was compensated $100. The nurse who helped me through my first donation told me I’d feel like running a few minutes into the process. She was right. Then she told me I might feel light headed and nauseous. She was right again. That’s when a few nurses gathered around me and put ice packs behind my neck. It calmed my anxiety down enough to complete the donation. 

Despite the uneasy feelings I had the first time, I challenged myself to donate a second time which forced me to overcome my fears. The second time, I made sure I was properly hydrated which is key to a smooth donation. I also got a good night’s sleep. I felt like a veteran the second time, and had no side effects.

While my COVID-19 antibodies were active, I made five donations. Each time, I felt like I was helping someone. After fighting through all of my COVID-19 symptoms including loss of taste, smell and extreme fatigue, I finally felt like myself again.

In 2020, the total of all deaths involving COVID-19 reached 353,442 according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. While authorized and recommended COVID-19 vaccines are currently being distributed in the United States, there remains a need for continued research and studies.

I believe I’m doing my small part to help the fight against COVID-19. If we all do a small part, imagine the big difference we can make. That’s what it is going to take to fight this pandemic. We have to work together in small ways whether it’s donating COVID-19 plasma, wearing masks, helping a neighbor or calling someone to let them know you care. 

You possess the power to make a difference.

Photo by Anna Shvets on Pexels.com

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