OneBlood, the not-for-profit blood center serving Florida and other parts of the Southeastern United States, is collecting plasma from people who have recovered from the coronavirus so it can be transfused to people with life-threatening coronavirus infection in hopes of aiding their recovery.
The experimental treatment is approved by the FDA to be used on an emergency basis and is called “COVID-19 convalescent plasma.”
People who recover from coronavirus infection have developed antibodies to the virus that remain in the plasma portion of their blood. Transfusing the plasma that contains the antibodies into a person still fighting the virus can provide a boost to the patient’s immune system and potentially help them recover.
OneBlood is working closely with the Florida Department of Health to identify people who have recovered from COVID-19 to be potential donors. In addition to local efforts, OneBlood is also cooperating with the federal government and anticipates participating in a national-level initiative to be able to provide convalescent plasma when and where it is needed.
OneBlood is working quickly to implement the new protocols to meet the FDA criteria for COVID-19 convalescent plasma. OneBlood plans to begin collecting plasma from qualified donors in the coming weeks and also plans to start offering the therapeutic agent to hospitals to treat severely ill coronavirus patients. As one of the largest blood centers in the country, OneBlood already has the technology in place to be able to collect, test and process plasma from donors.
The potential donors will need to meet all the usual screening criteria for blood donation, plus pass additional FDA criteria, including:
As with all transfusions, the donor and the patient will need to have compatible blood types.
In addition, the recipients of the plasma will also have to meet FDA criteria in order to qualify to receive this therapy for treating life-threatening COVID-19.
Generally, healthy people age 16 or older who weigh at least 110 pounds can donate blood. Photo ID is required. To learn more about the importance of blood donation and how donors can target the power of their blood type, visit oneblood.org. All donors receive a wellness checkup of blood pressure, pulse, temperature and iron count, including a cholesterol screening, plus a surprise gift.
One in three people will need blood or a blood product in their lifetime. Blood that is donated today will likely be transfused within two to three days. The turnaround is that fast; the need is constant.