The Blood Connection in Urgent Need of Plasma as Vaccine Affects Donations
GREENVILLE, SOUTH CAROLINA (JANUARY 5, 2021) – Amid the arrival of the long awaited COVID-19 vaccine, the demand for a well-known treatment for those battling the virus, convalescent plasma, has skyrocketed. The Blood Connection (TBC), a non-profit community blood center, has seen the demand for this life-saving product triple in the past few months because of its effectiveness. TBC has played a crucial role in local convalescent plasma collection in its commitment to meet every community hospital’s need during the pandemic. However, the need for convalescent plasma continues to far outrun the supply.
The release of the COVID-19 vaccine has created a challenge for TBC, as it reduces the number of people who are eligible to give convalescent plasma. The Federal Drug Administration (FDA) has recommended that donors who have received the vaccine should not donate convalescent plasma but can donate whole blood (a regular blood donation). To give convalescent plasma, donors must be symptom free for at least 14 days and must have proof of a positive COVID-19 test or positive COVID-19 antibody test.
Convalescent plasma has proven to drastically help many COVID-19 patients battling the virus. TBC Medical Director, Robert Rainer, explains the significance of a plasma transfusion: “COVID is like a sprinter. It runs a 100-yard dash really, really fast. Blood plasma gives the patient a 50-yard head start, so it lets their immune system catch up and get ahead of the infection. When you donate with The Blood Connection, you’re helping a neighbor win that race.”
Not only are plasma units needed for current cases, a healthy stockpile of this product must be available. TBC has depleted its stockpile because of the increased number of orders from local hospitals. TBC and the community hospitals it serves are in desperate need of eligible donors to give immediately to stabilize the supply so that hospitals don’t have to be selective with who receives this treatment. Convalescent plasma cannot be manufactured or replicated; it must be donated. For those who think they may have had the virus at some point but don’t have documentation of a positive COVID-19 diagnosis, TBC is urging those donors to give blood, which includes COVID-19 antibody testing. Antibody test results will be posted within seven business days. If positive, donors could be eligible to begin the process of donating convalescent plasma.
At a roundtable discussion last year, President Donald Trump, U.S. Surgeon General Jerome Adams, and Director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases Dr. Anthony Fauci, among others, urged the public to donate convalescent plasma to be “heroes” for their fellow Americans.
“There is a role for everyone in this fight, whether you are helping us spread the word about donating this life-saving blood product or if you’re donating it yourself. The fact that the one of the tried-and-true treatments for the virus requires the help of someone else truly shows how this pandemic has been for many of us – an example of how to support one another,” says TBC President and CEO, Delisa English. “Right now, we need all hands on deck.”
As this community’s blood center, it is imperative that donors give convalescent plasma with TBC. Donors must be symptom free for at least 14 days and bring proof of a positive COVID-19 test or positive COVID-19 antibody test in order to donate. As a ‘thank you’, convalescent plasma donors will receive TBC Reward Points which can be redeemed for e-gift cards in the TBC Online Store. Please call 864-751-1168 to make an appointment to donate plasma at any TBC blood drive or at any TBC center in North Carolina, South Carolina and Savannah, GA.
About The Blood Connection
Founded in Greenville, SC, The Blood Connection has been committed to saving lives since 1962. TBC is an independently managed, not-for-profit, community blood center that provides blood products to more than 70 hospitals within Georgia, South Carolina, and North Carolina. Recognized by the U.S. Congress for its dedication to disaster preparedness and the community, TBC works diligently to collect blood from volunteer donors to meet the ever-increasing demand. By keeping collections local, TBC serves hundreds of thousands of patients a year in its communities. TBC is licensed and regulated by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration. For more information, visit thebloodconnection.org.