Recovered COVID patients urged to donate blood plasma to help others beat virus

NHS Blood and Transplant (NHSBT) needs more people who were in hospital with COVID-19 to donate blood plasma.

Donors who received hospital treatment for coronavirus are more likely to have the high level of antibodies needed for convalescent plasma, which could help others in hospital struggling to develop their own immune response to the virus.

People of all levels of illness can donate – including people with minor symptoms – but there is a special need for the most seriously ill people to donate as new analysis shows generally they have the highest antibody levels.

The North West has taken donations from 114 people who needed hospital care. This included 45 people at Liverpool’s two plasma donor centres.

Jason Crescenti from Grassendale in Liverpool spent a week in the Royal Liverpool Hospital and is one of the top donors from the North West into the plasma trial.

He has made 12 plasma donations so far at the NHSBT Speke Donor Centre.

The 53-year-old retired engineering manager was treated at the end of March.

He said: “After spending 10 days in bed with what I thought was flu my wife arranged a video consultation with the GP. Within a couple of minutes the doctor made the decision to call an ambulance.

“I think it was the fact I was so ill looking and when she asked me to count back from ten. I think I got to seven before I was struggling to breathe.

“After the week I had in hospital, I would do anything to help anybody with this disease. I saw people dying. It’s a horrible and devastating thing to go through for both patients and their families. After the excellent care I received it is the least I can do to give something back.

“I would say to anyone else who needed hospital care – donating is the simplest thing in the world. It doesn’t hurt. Giving up a couple of hours of your time is insignificant compared to the benefits your plasma can do in helping others.”

NHSBT is taking donations for the plasma arms of the RECOVERY and REMAP-CAP trials. The trials will determine whether the antibody-rich blood plasma found in people who’ve had coronavirus could be an effective treatment for general use in the NHS.

Professor David Roberts, NHSBT associate medical director for blood donation, said: “Our analysis shows people who had hospital care make our best donors. They have the highest antibody levels and their antibodies stay higher for longer. Your body quickly replaces the donated plasma and antibodies and it does not affect antibody levels in the long term.

“We are grateful to people like Jason in the north west who have been willing to donate their plasma. Especially to those who were in hospital and will have had a difficult time this year. By donating, they could be helping to save lives.”

If you’ve had confirmed coronavirus or the symptoms, you can volunteer today to donate plasma at www.nhsbt.nhs.uk or simply search online for ‘donate plasma’.

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