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Could Your Plasma Donation Help COVID-19 Patients?

SPONSORED — The joy and relief that met the news of a safe and reliable COVID-19 vaccine’s development and certification was palpable the world over. We all felt a universal sigh of relief as a way out of the virus’ deadly clutches finally came into view; after a year of so much heartbreak, we had a glimmer of hope growing brighter one front-line health worker’s arm at a time. Like Mrs. Doubtfire said, help, finally and triumphantly, was on the way.

But experts both locally and nationally are quick to caution – even despite the herculean efforts to develop the new vaccines in record time and their incredible efficacy, mass vaccination and an end to COVID-19’s unfettered reign of devastation are still a long way off. But since April 2019, our region’s blood center, Bloodworks Northwest, has been taking a pioneering path to a century-old therapy first used to combat the Spanish Flu in 1918, collecting antibody-rich Convalescent Plasma from recovered COVID-19 patients to infuse into people currently sick with the disease, boosting their immune system enough, sometimes, to trigger an immune response that leads to recovery.

Because the Northwest was the first epicenter of COVID-19 in the USA, Bloodworks was able to launch its Convalescent Plasma (CCP) program in April 2019 and its first donor, Elizabeth Schneider, gained international media attention (and was featured in an episode of the Bloodworks 101 podcast) for offering one of the few rays of hope we had in those early days. Since then, Elizabeth and over one thousand more donors have given CCP through an apheresis donation process that separates a donor’s plasma from the other blood components before returning the remaining blood back to the donor. The process is safe, takes 1-2 hours, and for the millions waiting to get a vaccine, represents one of the few promising treatment options against COVID-19.

In a recent Bloodworks 101 episode titled “I’ve Never Been that Sick,” Loyce Baudan, mother of Bloodworks employee Angie Keller, recounts her harrowing course of COVID-19 and the transformative effect, she feels, that her dose of convalescent plasma had on her path to recovery. “My doctor felt like it was going to help me, and it did,” she said. “With my age, the plasma made a big difference.”

Though symptoms of the virus vary, it has taken a great toll on thousands in our community, the United States, and worldwide. In the fight against COVID-19, the need for this antibody-rich plasma couldn’t be greater. If you previously tested positive and have fully recovered from COVID-19, pay it forward by donating your plasma today. If you did not contract the virus but know someone who did and has recovered, please direct them to bloodworksnw.org/covid19study.

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