MedWatch Today: Urgency for former COVID patients to donate convalescent plasma

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Plasma donations are needed in the Valley to help those who are fighting the Coronavirus in the hospital.

If you’ve had a positive COVID-19 test, and have been symptom free for at least 28 days, you are urged to donate your plasma at the Central California Blood Center – that plasma has antibodies against the virus and can help people who are currently fighting for their lives against COVID-19.

The Blood Center has always urged people to donate their blood as well as their plasma. Since the COVID-19 pandemic hit, they now need plasma from those who have recovered from the Coronavirus.

Ersilia Lacaze is the Director of Marketing and Community Development at the Blood Center. She explains, “When you’ve recovered from the Coronavirus, from COVID-19, what that means is your body, of course, has fought against that virus, and it has in theory, created those antibodies that are housed in your plasma so when we collect your plasma, really what we’re saying is, we’re giving those patients a shot of these antibodies so that their body can kick start the fight against it, if you will.”

Fresno State student Benny Gaona tested positive for COVID-19 in November.

“When I first got COVID, I started noticing it was getting harder and harder to breathe doing minuscule tasks… Just like walking from point A to point B. And then I started getting a massive headache that lasted, I guess a week, and then after a week it progressed even more like terribly, and then later on I started noticing my taste buds were going away,” shared Benny.

Though Benny was never hospitalized, he describes his experience with COVID as the worst flu he’s ever had. He said he knew he could donate his plasma to help treat those battling the Coronavirus in the hospital, but it was a family friend’s struggle with the coronavirus that got benny to rush to the blood center to donate.

Benny said, “I got a call from my mom saying that she had a church member, one of her friends in church who was in the hospital, and she told me that if I donated plasma yet, and I told her no. But she told me that this church member her friend was in the hospital and they said they would give them plasma but they ran out of plasma.”

Benny has since donated his plasma three times, and he plans to keep giving as long as he can. His donation is helping to save lives.

“Every individual is different of course, we’re able to get certain volumes of plasma and for some donors that means that we can make more than one dose of the Convalescent plasma treatment from one donor, so it can go to multiple patients,” said Benny.

Ersilia said the whole process to donate plasma is about 45 minutes to an hour. She said anyone who has tested positive for COVID-19 and has been symptom free for at least 28 days, can donate their plasma every two weeks.

Benny hopes people who can donate their blood or plasma do so, because we’re all in this fight against the Coronavirus together.

“I just thought like look, I have COVID now. It’s my duty to donate plasma, you know, I survived so why not… pretty much for the people that are fighting COVID in the hospitals, if I can give them at a shot at life,” ended Benny.

For more information about donating plasma, click here.

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