Donated convalescent plasma may be beneficial to patients with severe
coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) to boost their ability to fight the virus.
What Is Convalescent Plasma?
Most people who recover from COVID-19 develop antibodies (proteins that the immune system produces in response to infection) to severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2 (SARSCoV-2). Antibodies are found in plasma, the yellow liquid portion of blood. Plasma is collected from donors who have recovered from COVID-19 through a process called apheresis, which uses a special machine to separate the blood into different components. The plasma is removed, while the rest of the blood components are returned into the donor’s body.
Potential Benefits of Convalescent Plasma
Convalescent plasma has been used to treat other infections and may
be beneficial for COVID-19. Researchers hope that convalescent plasma
can be given to patients with severe COVID-19 to boost their ability
to fight the virus. Studies are underway to evaluate use of convalescent plasma as treatment for patients with severe COVID-19 and to
prevent infection (prophylaxis) in certain high-risk patients exposed
to COVID-19. Convalescent plasma might provide immunity by giving patients neutralizing antibodies for SARS-CoV-2. Although there is a lot that is unknown, convalescent plasma may work best for patients earlier in the disease course. Currently, convalescent plasma is being given to small numbers of hospitalized patients with severe or life-threatening COVID-19 illness. Several case reports suggest treatment is helpful, but larger studies are still needed.
Potential Risks of Convalescent Plasma
Plasma transfusions are safe and well tolerated by most patients. Side
effects of convalescent plasma are similar to those of regular plasma
transfusions. The most common side effect is a mild allergic reaction. Rare but serious side effects include problems with the heart or lungs, or infection. As with all blood products, convalescent plasma is thoroughly tested before use.All donated blood is screened for blood type compatibility as well as infections like hepatitis B and C,HIV, and many other less common infections. SARS-CoV-2 is not spread by blood, and there is no risk of transmission from recovered donors.
How to Donate Plasma
Currently, people who have recovered from COVID-19 who had a confirmed positive test result can donate plasma after they have been symptom free for at least 14 days. People who have recovered from suspected COVID-19 but never had a confirmed positive test result can also become donors if tests show they have SARS-CoV-2 antibodies. All donors must meet other blood donation criteria.If you have recovered from COVID-19 and want to donate plasma, contact the Red Cross or a local blood bank for more information