AUSTIN, Texas - We Are Blood is beginning to see more COVID-19 convalescent plasma donations from people who have recovered from the life-threatening illness.
Convalescent plasma is an investigational treatment the FDA recently recommended to healthcare providers. The life-saving plasma is gathered from recovered COVID-19 patients, using the antibodies to treat people currently fighting the Coronavirus.
Nick Canedo, We Are Blood VP of Community Engagement, said since they’ve opened up plasma donation applications 80 people have applied. So far, two people have donated plasma, helping patients at four area hospitals.
Aaron Shumaker was one of them.
Shumaker attended a work conference in Canada when he was told he needed to self-quarantine because he was exposed to someone diagnosed with COVID-19. Once his symptoms kicked in, he said it was difficult to access testing and took about a week to get his results.
Shumaker describes his symptoms as mild. “I had all the traditional symptoms that you get with COVID-19, the body aches, the tiredness, the headaches,” Shumaker said. “I feel very fortunate, I’m on the younger side, I'm healthy, I didn’t have to go to the hospital. I did have to isolate for what did end up being a good two and a half weeks. In total about three weeks but that was primarily because my cough was persistent and didn’t want to go away.”
After learning about convalescent plasma, Shumaker signed up to donate. He said the process took about two hours but it was well worth it. “It was a very small sacrifice to hopefully make a much bigger impact in the community,” Shumaker said.
According to the Austin/Travis County Public Health COVID-19 dashboard, 144 people have recovered from the virus as of Tuesday afternoon and 93 people were hospitalized.
Eligibility to donate is specific to FDA’s recommended guidelines.
People who have recovered from COVID-19 need to have a physician or health care provider prove they were lab tested and diagnosed with the virus.
“The biggest roadblock for many interested people is the prior lab tested diagnosis for COVID-19, unfortunately, that is what is required in the FDA’s guidance because we need to confirm that an individual actually had COVID-19,” said Canedo.
Canedo adds the center's blood donations are stable. We Are Blood is booked until the end of April and is taking blood donation appointments for May. For more information on how to donate, click here.
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