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Attention coronavirus survivors: Medical researchers want your plasma

Experts say it could help fight COVID infections
Posted at 4:06 PM, Apr 23, 2020
and last updated 2020-04-26 02:03:35-04

College student Nico Ubide turned his positive COVID-19 diagnosis into a way to help fight this global pandemic.

“The donation center was a great experience, really humbling,” the University of Pennsylvania student said. “People were really grateful that I went into donate.”

After fully recovering from his symptoms, Ubide decided to donate his plasma. Medical researchers will use it for experimental antibody treatments for coronavirus patients.

“It was a really rewarding experience,” he said. “It took 45 minutes and its one of the best ways to do your part in this whole situation.”

This medical approach is called convalescent plasma therapy. It is too early to tell if these plasma donations have an impact on COVID-19 but experts say it’s been effective before against other viruses.

“I think this is something we need to do as Americans for our neighbors,” said Erin Goodhue of the American Red Cross – the organization spearheading this program.

Despite the uncertainty of this procedure, Goodhue says it’s well worth the investment.

“Regardless of hospital affiliation, we feel this is a person specific therapy and we want to make sure everybody who needs it can get it,” she said.

That’s why the Red Cross is now partnering with specialists at places like Medstar Georgetown University Hospital.

“We’re amazed and really worried about how rapidly those individuals who don’t do well with their infections deteriorate,” said Craig Kessler, MD.

Kessler supports this plasma therapy, saying as more people die from COVID-19, there’s now a growing need for more plasma donors.

“Only with community participation will we ever learn whether this is a valid approach to the treatment of a very serious and high mortality disease,” he said.

To find out if you're eligible to be a donor, visit redcrossblood.org.