ORLANDO, Fla. – With the surge of coronavirus cases in Florida comes the need for a greater demand of convalescent plasma donors. One Blood is making a call to action asking those people who have recovered from COVID-19 to help out others battling the virus in a hospital.
“There is an urgent need, we have put out the all call. It is all hands on deck at One Blood,” said Susan Forbes, senior VP of corporate communications for One Blood. “Right now, One Blood is experiencing over a 500% increase in demands in orders from hospitals throughout our service area.”
Forbes said it’s an extraordinary scene at the organization, which is in dire need of convalescent plasma donors. Forbes said they’ve collected thousands of convalescent plasma donations since April, but because there is a surge in COVID-19 cases and hospitals are now providing convalescent plasma earlier in treatment than they were in April, usage has reached new heights.
“It’s literally a revolving door here. As quickly as the orders come in, they are being processed, tested and out the door to a hospital,” she said. “To be eligible to be a convalescent plasma donor, you have to have either a confirmed positive test from a lab or a hospital and be 14 days symptom-free.”
The process takes 30 minutes from the time a person starts to donate.
“Donating plasma is just like donating blood. When you leave, what we’ve collected is your plasma and it’s an automated process that collects all of your blood components, but it is separated in a machine,” Forbes said. “It’s a very simple process and, you know, when you leave here, you know that you’ve done something extraordinary for your community in helping save somebody’s life.”
In April, Kevin Rathel was the first patient in the Southeast to receive this type of treatment. His wife said he had been on life support and no other treatments seemed to have work until he received convalescent plasma.
“You are able to donate plasma every 28 days. So, please make it a habit and come back in 28 days from now. There is no end in sight of this at the moment so we will be collecting convalescent plasma for the foreseeable future,” Forbes said. “If you’re not able to do the plasma donation, then we will do what is known as the whole blood donation and we’re able to get one transfusable unit of plasma from a whole blood donation.”
The minimum age to donate is 16 years old and you must have the consent of a parent or guardian. One Blood also does antibody testing when you donate blood. If your result is positive, you could be a potential convalescent plasma donor.
To register to become a convalescent plasma donor, visit oneblood.org.