Blood plasma needed from recovered COVID-19 patients

Blood plasma needed from recovered COVID-19 patients

The University of Miami Health System and OneBlood, a blood bank center that serves hospitals across the southeastern United States, are working together to encourage individuals who have recovered from COVID-19 to donate convalescent plasma. 

“Their blood contains antibodies that may strengthen the ability of patients to fight this viral infection,” said Shweta Anjan, M.D., assistant professor of clinical medicine at UHealth. Anjan is working with Maria Luisa Alcaide, M.D., associate professor of clinical medicine and director of the Infectious Diseases Research Unit, on an initiative that uses antibodies found in recovered COVID-19 patients to decrease the viral load in new patients—an approach that is effective in treating influenza and other viral infections. 

A donor must have confirmed COVID-19 documented by a laboratory test—nasopharyngeal swab PCR or an antibody test—and meet required screening criteria to donate. Learn more here.

The following are a few frequently asked questions about convalescent plasma donations.

What is convalescent plasma?

When a person contracts a virus like COVID-19, their immune system creates antibodies to fight the virus. These antibodies are found in plasma, the liquid part of blood. Plasma with these infection-fighting antibodies is called convalescent plasma. Through blood donation, this antibody-rich plasma can be collected from a person who has recovered from COVID-19 and then transfused to a sick patient who is still fighting the virus.

How can we use convalescent plasma?

Convalescent plasma is a treatment option for patients with a severe or life-threatening COVID-19 infection and those at risk for progression of the illness. Convalescent plasma provides a boost to the sick patient’s immune system and may help speed the recovery process.

Who can be a plasma donor?

A donor must have confirmed COVID-19 documented by a laboratory test (e.g., nasopharyngeal swab PCR or antibody test) at the time of illness. And, they must have had complete resolution of symptoms at least 28 days before donation. In addition, one can donate just 14 days after complete resolution of symptoms, as long as there is a repeat negative result for COVID-19 from a nasopharyngeal swab specimen.

University employees with questions about testing, or who are experiencing possible COVID-19 symptoms, should contact their health care provider and also notify the UHealth hotline at 305-243-8378. The hotline is available weekdays from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. and is staffed by UHealth nurses who can provide guidance. Employees who are required to self-isolate for a period of 14 days must also contact their HR partner.

More information on the donation process is here.