Red Cross urges coronavirus survivors to donate life-saving convalescent plasma

Red Cross urges coronavirus survivors to donate life-saving convalescent plasma
Volunteer donates blood (Source: American Red Cross)

ROANOKE, Va. (WDBJ) - January is National Blood Donor Awareness month and a good time to give a little of what we all have coursing through our veins.

The start of a new year always begins with the need for more blood donations.

“This time of year, when it’s not traditionally one of the times we see significant turnout at our blood drives, we want to make sure that our hospital partners don’t have another hospital crisis,” said Jonathan McNamara, regional communications director for the American Red Cross.

As the pandemic continues into year two, convalescent plasma from COVID survivors is in increasingly high demand.

“There are patients across the commonwealth that are in need of this therapy,” McNamara said.

Already the U.S. has seen more than 22 million cases of coronavirus. Each person who recovers from the virus potentially has antibodies in their blood that can save a COVID-19 patient in critical care.

“That’s why we’re really putting out a word to those who have recovered from COVID-19 and are looking for a way to pay it forward,” McNamara said.

Donating plasma is easy, but does take longer than a regular blood donation. “It’s about at least a 90-minute donation process,” he explained.

Which is one reason why appointments have to be made in advance rather than just showing up at a community drive.

“Most people just put in their Airpods, watch a movie or zone out listening to music, knowing full well their short time in that chair means that patients can improve their chances in recovering from the virus,” he said.

So whether you’re able to donate blood or convalescent plasma, the Red Cross says this an easy way to start the new year off right.

“We’re all grateful for the heroic efforts of health care professionals around the state,” McNamara said. “And this is one way you can say thank you by making sure they have the blood they need to treat patients from a variety of different conditions.”

To help address the shortage of convalescent plasma, the American Red Cross is teaming up with the NFL to urge people, especially those who have recovered from COVID-19, to give blood now. All who go to donate blood or platelets this January will be automatically entered to win a getaway to next year’s Super Bowl LVI in Los Angeles. In addition, those who go give January 1-20 will also be automatically entered to win a Big Game at Home package, which includes a 65-inch television and a $500 gift card to put toward food and fun.

You can find out more information about convalescent plasma and schedule an appointment on the Red Cross website.

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