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Now you’ve heard a lot of talk aboutand antibody testing in the case of . Although we do not know all about how coronavirus antibodies work yet, we do know that antibodies can tell you if you have been infected with the virus before, and current research is trying to determine if they play a role in helping people who are already infected recover.
Since there is no effective cure for COVID-19 yet, medical researchers are trying severalto help people, especially those who are critically ill. One of these treatments is plasma infusion, which involves transferring blood plasma from a COVID-19 survivor to a critically ill patient in the hope that the plasma contains antibodies that can help the person fight the virus.
The FDA and the American Red Cross encourage COVID-19 survivors to donate plasma to help those who are currently battling the virus and are seriously ill. Continue reading to learn more about how to donate and how plasma donation can help others who are critically ill.
How plasma donations can help critical patients
One of the biggest challenges in fighting COVID-19 is that there is currently no proven treatment or cure. Doctors and researchers are working on various drugs and treatments that can help, but they must primarily use trial and error with other possible treatment methods, such as plasma infusion.
Dr Sandra Kesh, an expert in infectious diseases and MD at WestMed Medical Group, says that we do not yet have lots of data on how effective plasma infusions are for COVID-19 yet, but it is promising.
“With people who have had plasma infusions, and they are usually people with a serious illness because there is no other treatment available, you see a reduction in mortality, or people who die from the infection,” Dr Kesh told CNET.
Dr. Kesh says that what researchers and medical experts hope is that through plasma, they can extract specific antibodies that fight COVID-19, known as neutralizing antibodies. “It can be confusing because we have so many different antibody tests, and when your body is infected, it creates a whole lot of antibodies. And so the ones we want to give to humans are the ones we know can effectively fight the virus.”
Who is eligible to donate plasma?
Anyone who has been infected with coronavirus can donate plasma with some restrictions. When I was sick with COVID-19 in April, I was told by the health authorities that I would need to get a second test and test negative to donate plasma, but the FDA says it is not necessary.
According to the FDA, you must have a previous laboratory test that confirms that you had the virus and does not show any symptoms for at least 14 days before you donated. The Red Cross also requires donors to be at least 17 years old and weigh 110 kilos, and if you are under 18, there may be additional weight requirements. You must also report good health and that you are generally well.
The requirements for donating plasma will vary depending on where you donate, so be sure to check all the requirements before you register or you may be rejected later.
How to donate plasma and what to expect
The good thing about donating plasma is that while it may sound scary, the experience is really similar to donating blood. It takes longer (over an hour) because when you donate plasma, the plasma is extracted from your blood and then some of it returns to you. What you can expect to feel is similar to any blood donation process – someone draws blood from your arm, and then sends it through a machine where plasma is collected. The machine helps to send the red blood cells back to the body after it has extracted plasma.
In order to voluntarily donate plasma, you must contact a donation center in your area and find out if you are qualified first. Once you have been approved, the donation center will tell you where to go to donate. AABB and the American Red Cross both have tools that can help you find a donation site. You can also check out The Fight Is In Us to help you determine if you are eligible to donate and where to go.
Risks and side effects of plasma donation
Donating plasma is considered relatively safe for most people, but there are some risks and potential side effects that you should know about before donating, just in case. Donating plasma is different from donating blood because there is a second step involved – directing the blood back to the body. Because of this step, there are a few more risks involved than regular blood donation.
First, donating plasma requires you to drain fluids so that you can become dehydrated after donating. If you donate, make sure you are well hydrated before and after donating plasma.
There is also a small risk of infection, bruising or slight pain at the site where the needle is placed.
In addition to this, there are some potential serious problems that can occur with plasma donation compared to blood donation. First, you can get a citrate reaction, which comes from the citrate that is added to the blood in the plasma extraction process. Not everyone responds to it, but it is possible.
Hemolysis is another condition in which red blood cells are destroyed in the donation process, which causes proteins to leak into the bloodstream, which is harmful. Finally, another complication that can occur with plasma donation is an air embolism, which is potentially fatal and occurs when an air bubble escapes from the plasma donation machine and enters your bloodstream, usually due to a malfunction.
Despite the risks and side effects, donating plasma if you have been infected with the coronavirus can help other people fight the virus and recover. If you fall into the camp, consider donating, as it could save someone else’s life.
The information in this article is for educational and informational purposes only and is not intended as health or medical advice. Always consult a doctor or other qualified healthcare provider if you have questions about a medical condition or health goal.