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Plasma donations urgently needed from recovered COVID-19 patients

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Doctors across the country are using blood plasma from recovered COVID-19 patients to help others. As positive cases continue to climb nationwide, the need for plasma donors is growing. (Sinclair Broadcast Group)

Doctors across the country are using blood plasma from recovered COVID-19 patients to help others.

As positive cases continue to climb nationwide, the need for plasma donors is growing.

In this Sinclair Cares, Melanie Torre shows you how some blood centers are working to get more recovered patients in their doors.

"I got sick around March 1 or 2," said Brendan Steinhauser, plasma donor.

Brendan now knows he caught COVID-19 a full week before any cases were reported in Austin.

"It kind of felt like the flu at first and I could feel my immune system battling," Brendan said.

A positive test weeks later confirmed the virus was making its way through his system. When he finally recovered, a family member, who's a nurse, encouraged him to turn around and help others.

"She said, ‘hey you should look into donating blood plasma. we're going to be able to use that to treat people.," he said.

Brendan learned one convalescent plasma donation could help three or four people hospitalized in his own community.

"I thought that if you'd had COVID-19 the last thing you'd want to do is give blood, but it turns out, once you recover, your body develops these antibodies that are in the blood plasma," Brendan said.

In the United States alone, more than 1 million people have recovered from COVID-19. Now national organizations, like the American Red Cross, are testing all blood, plasma and platelet donations for COVID-19 antibodies.

"This is not a diagnostic test, but it will help tell donors whether or not they have been exposed to COVID-19 at some point in the last few months," said April Phillips, spokesperson, American Red Cross.

Phillips said increased interest in COVID-19 antibody testing is helping get more donors in the door.

It is important to know that not all blood centers are testing for antibodies, but most are taking plasma donations from people who have lab results showing at one time they were positive for COVID-19.

It's a donation Brendan says he'd be happy to make again.

"There wasn't a lot of silver lining in getting COVID-19, but this was a way that there could be," he said. "This was a way that at least something good could come out of it."


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