Health experts encourage COVID-19 survivors to donate plasma

Health experts encourage COVID-19 survivors to donate plasma

MEMPHIS, Tenn. (WMC) - COVID-19 survivors have the opportunity to help other COVID-19 patients by donating their plasma.

Health officials say collecting enough plasma will help when there is an uptick of cases.

"I think I showed my first symptom like around March the 12th,” said Ben Gardner.

Gardner was among the first people to test positive for COVID-19 in Memphis. After testing positive, he described his recovery at home, as difficult.

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"On the worst night I remember it was like breathing through a brown paper bag, and just having one lung. It would take me 10 breathes to just try to get that one deep breath,” said Gardner.

Gardner recovered April 6, his birthday, and was then asked if he would donate plasma.

"At that point I kinda felt the need to give back…It’s a pretty painless process and to be able to say that you have the potential to save somebody’s life just for not very much sacrifice I don’t know why anybody wouldn’t do it,” said Gardner.

Dr. Steve Threlkeld, an infectious disease specialist at Baptist Memorial Hospital says patients like Gardner are called convalescent patients and their plasma contains antibodies that have been effective for other COVID-19 patients.

“Several patients seemingly make very nice turnarounds after receiving the plasma transfusion,” said Threlkeld.

Threlkeld notes the FDA is looking into how effective the plasma transfusions are, and says that for now collecting enough plasma is a priority.

“At first there is a limited supply so to be fair you give it to the people who need it the most and a lot of the times those are the people who are sickest,” said Threlkeld.

Several companies including Microsoft and the Mayo Clinic have even come together for “The Fight Is In Us” campaign as a way to gather more plasma before a possible surge of cases in the fall.

In regards to the time frame, a convalescent patient can donate plasma, Dr. Threlkeld says it’s unknown and it’s something they hope to find out within the next coming weeks.

If you have recovered from COVID-19 and would like to donate plasma Threlkeld says you should check with your doctor.

You can also call the Coronavirus Resource Hotline at (866)941-4785. It’s open 24/7. A registered nurse will pick up the line and can help with any COVID-19 related questions.

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