AUGUSTA, Ga. (WJBF) — The Shepeard Blood Center desperately needs patients that have been tested positive for COVID-19, and now are sufficiently recovered to donate plasma. The center will take that plasma and send it to local hospitals. Then physicians will infuse it into extremely ill patients.
“The faster we can get those donors in, the quicker we can save lives at local hospitals!” said The Director of Apheresis Melinda Woodell.
If you have recovered from COVID-19, you have antibodies in your plasma that can be used to treat extremely ill patients with life-threating severe COVID-19 infections.
“The antibodies present in a healthy recovered donor can help those patients on life support currently,” explained Woodell. “As we know, the need for ventilators is enormous.”
The blood center will take your blood then separate the plasma from it. From there, the plasma will be sent to local hospitals for transfusions. The transfusion will be primarily used for those in intensive care units. It’s a treatment that has been around for about 100 years but now being revisited.
“After we got antibiotics in the 40s and 50s, we didn’t need it anymore because we got antibiotics to treat pneumonia,” explained Chef for Division of Infectious Diseases Dr. Jose Vazques. “We don’t have anything right now that is completely effective against the coronavirus.”
You have to be symptom-free for more than 14 days. Provide documentation of a positive COVID-19 test and recent negative COVID-19 test. Last, you must meet donor FDA eligibility.
“You’re not going to get sick, and you’re not going to get reinfected,” said Dr. Vazquez. “You have the antibodies that everybody needs. You’re not going to get anybody else sick because you’re not contagious.”
Dr. Vazquez told NewsChannel 6 reporter Devin Johnson one pint of blood could save the life of four people. This treatment could be the cornerstone we need to beat the virus.
“Any new medicines take forever to grow,” said Woodell. “We’re hoping that a new vaccine will be in place in a year, with medications to follow after. Hopefully, this is that bridge.”
Dr. Vazquez hopes by next week, Augusta University Health will be doing antibody testing in the community. He also wants to start that testing with healthcare workers, to see how many of them have been infected.