Your blood donation could help patients who are battling COVID-19, especially with a potential second wave of cases this fall, a possibility that concerns infectious diseases experts. This message calling for more blood donations comes from the American Red Cross, which has just announced a new development that’s being called a “game changer” in helping COVID-19 patients recover.
“Starting this week, plasma from standard blood donations may be used to treat coronavirus patients, if they test positive for COVID-19 antibodies,” Stephanie Rendon, Media Relations Manager at the Red Cross, tells Changing America.
Your blood is made up of red blood cells, white blood cells, platelets and plasma. Plasma contains antibodies, proteins made by the immune system to attack what’s making you sick; in this case, it’s COVID-19 antibodies. Convalescent plasma comes from people who are “convalescing” or recovering from having had an illness.
“Historically, convalescent plasma has been used as a potentially lifesaving treatment in some situations when new diseases or infections develop quickly, and no treatments or vaccines were available yet,” says Jessica Merrill, director of Biomedical Communications at American Red Cross, in an interview with Changing America. “Convalescent plasma is plasma collected from patients who have recovered from an infection and have antibodies that might help fight that infection. Then that antibody-rich plasma is transfused into a patient who is critically ill. Some preliminary data suggests that convalescent plasma may help some coronavirus patients – especially those who are seriously ill.”
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