Triangle hospitals seek plasma donations to help COVID-19 patients


RALEIGH, N.C. (WNCN) – As COVID-19 cases surge in the Triangle and across the United States, so does the demand for convalescent plasma.

“One of the treatments that physicians are relying on, especially for critically-ill [COVID-19] patients, is convalescent plasma,” said Barry Jones, regional CEO of the American Red Cross. “This is an approved experiment or emergency procedure that the FDA authorized.”

Plasma is taken from COVID-19 survivors and used to treat and current patients. Just like it’s color, plasma is like gold for hospitals.

“These units of plasma can be given to someone still battling the disease to help them try and recover,” Jones said of the benefits. “We’ve seen that demand from hospitals spike along with the increased cases of COVID-19.”

The Red Cross needs people who have recovered from the virus to donate. Donors have to be able to show documentation that they had the virus and have recovered from it. Donors also have to be asymptomatic for at least two weeks.

Barry explained: “You register online, you’re gonna get a call and get screened, get some documentation together that says, yeah, I have truly been exposed and recovered. And then we’ll schedule that appointment together for you to come in and do she a gift of life potentially to another COVID-19 patient.”

Zack Kaplan tested positive for the virus in mid-March. He had a mild case and never needed convalescent plasma. Since recovering, Kaplan said he has donated plasma four times. Kaplan is encouraging other survivors to pay it forward and do the same.

He added: “It seemed like a way that I could really do right by all of the people who helped me out while I was sick. So it’s a really relatively easy and relatively painless process. And, to know that it has proven to be useful to folks who are currently fighting the virus has been rewarding for me.”

The Red Cross offers more information on donating.

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