Breckenridge Texan

Rotary, Carter BloodCare seeking COVID-19 survivors for plasma donations

Rotary, Carter BloodCare seeking COVID-19 survivors for plasma donations
December 06
16:10 2020

By Carla McKeown/Breckenridge Texan

If there’s a silver lining to someone having contracted COVID-19 and survived, it could be that their blood — more specifically, their plasma — can be used to help others who are suffering from the disease caused by the novel coronavirus. And, Carter BloodCare is seeking Stephens County residents, who have had and recovered from COVID-19, to consider making a plasma donation.

Colleen Horan, a consultant with Carter BloodCare, attended Thursday’s Rotary Club blood drive to provide more information about the need for plasma donations from recovered COVID-19 patients. She said that the plasma from people who have the COVID-19 antibodies in their blood can be used to treat current patients.

“We are looking to see if there are people here in Breckenridge that have recovered from COVID-19 — so that means they have the antibodies — if they would be willing to do a plasma donation so that we can have convalescent plasma, which is a special donation that we’re using right now to treat people that are currently suffering (from the disease,” Horan said. “So, basically, we need people that have recovered or even people that may have been asymptomatic and know that they have the antibodies.”

Horan said Carter BloodCare needs about 4 to 10 people to agree to make the plasma donation. Once enough people commit to the donation, the plasma drive will likely be scheduled to take place in Breckenridge some time in January.

“We would set up a special blood drive, because it’s different than what we’re doing today (Thursday) with a regular blood drive,” she said.

When plasma is donated, the plasma is separated from the rest of the blood and the red blood cells and platelets are returned to the donor’s body. The process takes a little longer than a regular blood donation, which usually takes about an hour or less, from checking in to leaving.

Plasma donors need to meet the same requirements as regular blood donors. For more information on what it takes to be eligible to donate blood, click here. The key eligibility for the convalescent plasma drive is that the donors need to have the COVID-19 antibodies in their blood. Potential donors include those who have had a positive COVID-19 test and those who have had their blood test positive for antibodies. The antibodies test has been conducted by Carter BloodCare on all blood donations since June. Additionally, if you suspect that you’ve had an case of COVID-19 but were never tested, talk to your doctor about having an antibodies test run.

Anyone who has had a recent case of COVID-19 needs to be completely free from symptoms for at least 14 days before they can donate plasma.

Although some plasma donation centers pay donors, Carter BloodCare cannot pay convalescent plasma donors because of the way the plasma is treated and used. Horan said the convalescent plasma is basically just transfused into another patient. According to the Carter BloodCare website, the centers that pay for plasma do not use it that way; they combine plasma from various donors and then process it to create “plasma derivatives.” For more information on the differences in the types of plasma donations, click here.

Chris Curtis, the director of business development at Stephens Memorial Hospital, said the local hospital has not treated anyone with convalescent plasma yet, but that hospital officials can request it from Carter BloodCare, if they need to.

To sign up for a local plasma donation drive, call Les or Sherry Strickland at 254-522-1959. Then, they will let you know when the plasma drive is set up.

Horan said a plasma drive has been set up for Olney and Carter BloodCare is working on arranging a drive in Graham.

“I’m thinking in small towns, maybe, this is a way they can help us out because it is more of a tight-knit community…people know each other and can spread the word,” she said. “We’re just asking if anybody knows that they have the antibodies, please consider making a plasma donation, so they can help somebody else.”

 

Cutline, top photo: Carter BloodCare phlebotomist Valeria Saldana prepares Breckenridge Rotary Club member Karen Martin to donate blood during the Rotary Club’s blood drive on Thursday. The Rotary and Carter BloodCare are seeking local residents who have survived COVID-19 to donate plasma in an upcoming blood drive. (Photo by Tony Pilkington/Breckenridge Texan)


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