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Demand for plasma, blood donations remains high as pandemic rages

Orange County Medical Director tells first hand of his experience donating plasma

If you’ve been keeping up with the COVID-19 pandemic then it’s very likely you may have heard the term “convalescent plasma.”

For those unfamiliar with the topic, 55% of our blood is plasma. It’s the liquid part of blood collected from patients who have recovered from COVID-19.

Plasma has been used as a treatment by doctors around Florida and the country to help coronavirus patients.

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“These patients develop antibodies to the virus that might help fight the infection – especially if given to critically ill COVID-19 patients early in the process,” health experts said.

Orange County’s EMS Medical Director Dr. Christian Zuver spoke about his experience donating plasma after he recovered from COVID-19.

“Initially when I got sick, I thought it was bad allergy symptoms, but when there was a prolonged cough and it felt flu-like, it was COVID,” Zuver said, adding he “went from being the physician to the patient pretty quick.”

After his recovery Zuver donated his plasma at OneBlood, an organization that has a need for both plasma and regular blood donations.

“If there’s the possibility that by me donating plasma that someone else could have a better outcome, then I thought that really spoke for itself and there’s no real decision to be made," Zuver said.

According to a news release, the pandemic has significantly disrupted OneBlood’s traditional model for collecting blood.

“Many of the places where you would normally see blood drives – like high schools, college campuses and companies – are not at a point where they can host regular blood drives,” officials said.

The need for blood and plasma is more urgent than it has ever been in recent history.

“There’s a finite group of people, like Dr. Zuver, who even have the ability to donate convalescent plasma, and those are the people we are asking to please step forward and donate,” Susan Forbes, senior vice president of corporate communications and public relations for OneBlood said. “But we also have an urgent need for more people to donate blood to ensure a ready blood supply in our Orange County community and throughout our service area.”

Patients with COVID-19 who receive the plasma have the possibility of getting over the disease faster than those who do not. The plasma can help boost their immune system and aid in their recovery.

“We’ve seen the case reports and the stories from our hospitals,” said Zuver. “Convalescent plasma is not necessarily the life-saving bullet against COVID-19, but it’s potentially one of the tools in our arsenal and there is a subset of people who have recovered when given plasma.”

According to officials, donating plasma takes less than an hour and regular blood donations take significantly less time — around 20 minutes.

“We live in a caring community and donating convalescent plasma is just one of those ways we can continue to help each other,” added Zuver.

To donate convalescent plasma or blood, officials ask that you make an online appointment at OneBlood.org.


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