ORLANDO, Fla. – OneBlood is still testing every blood donation for COVID-19 antibodies to use for convalescent plasma treatment, but spokesperson Susan Forbes said with cases and hospitalizations going down, they are exceeding demand for convalescent plasma.
“It’s not a test that we will be doing indefinitely. We are evaluating how much longer we will be providing that,” said Forbes.
It’s been about a year since OneBlood started testing all blood donations for COVID-19 antibodies. It was the first blood center in the country to collect COVID-19 convalescent plasma to help treat patients with the virus.
“I do believe it helped save my husband’s life,” said Stacie Rathel.
Rathel’s husband, Kevin was one of the first patients to receive the convalescent plasma treatment in the southeast. He was taken off life-support and wheeled out of the hospital days after receiving the treatment.
OneBlood said it has collected tens of thousands of units of COVID-19 convalescent blood donations. While the convalescent plasma may have helped many COVID-19 patients, OneBlood said the need is shifting from convalescent plasma to blood. It needs 2,500 units of blood a day to meet demand for patients across our region needing transfusions to survive.
“Right now, there is an urgent need for more people to step up and donate because as we head into those summer months it’s always the most challenging time for blood centers,” said Forbes. “We still to this day, can’t go back to the locations we usually collect it: high schools and colleges. Twenty percent of the blood supply comes from high schools and colleges and we’re only back to a handful of those places.”
Rathel is also calling for more blood donations, after seeing how important the convalescent plasma treatment was for her husband.
“It really wasn’t something that was on my radar. Occasionally, I would see a blood drive or something and I’ve donated a couple times. But when you put a face with a name or in a time of crisis like this when they’re constantly needing it, it motivates you to help out,” said Rathel.
Rathel and her family have donated convalescent plasma with plans to donate blood again.
Blood donated through OneBlood is tested, processed and distributed to hospitals across our area usually in a day, said Forbes.
“We’ve been really happy knowing it’s not being stored or sitting in a blood bank somewhere, it’s immediately going out and being used to help someone,” said Rathel.
“If you received the vaccine, you can still give blood, if you didn’t, you can still give blood. If you’ve had COVID, you can still donate,” said Forbes. “There’s no waiting period between getting the vaccine and giving blood.”
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