Hunter residents who have survived the coronavirus have been busy donating blood to help others diagnosed with the illness.
As part of an Australian clinical trial, convalescent plasma, the liquid part of the blood that contains antibodies, from recovered COVID-19 patients was given to a patient in Royal Melbourne Hospital for the first time this week, to see if it will speed up their recovery.
In May, Lifeblood – the Australian Red Cross blood donation service put out a call, asking for those who had received a lab confirmed diagnosis of COVID-19, been symptom free for 28 days and met existing blood donation criteria to step forward and donate convalescent plasma.
Since, 17 people in the Hunter region have donated the blood product, that will be used in the trial.
“Plasma donated by people who have recovered from COVID-19 may help boost the immunity of patients still battling the disease,” Lifeblood Chief Executive Shelly Park said.
The plasma collected will be used both as a form of direct treatment and as a medication called COVID-19 Immunoglobulin, which may provide passive immunity against coronavirus infections.
“This work may ultimately help treat patients suffering from this terrible disease and I would urge anyone who has recovered from a confirmed case of COVID-19 who thinks they may be eligible to donate blood, to contact us,” Ms Park said.
“Donating plasma is a simple, powerful act that could help a patient struggling to fight the disease. It is a real opportunity for people who have battled COVID-19 to become part of a potential solution.”
Convalescent plasma is being trialled as a treatment for patients suffering from COVID-19 in a number of countries including Canada, the United States, the United Kingdom, and China.
It’s important to note there are new rules when it comes to making a blood donation.
If you have travelled anywhere overseas you must wait 28 days from the day you return before you can donate. This time frame also applies to anyone who has had contact with a confirmed case of coronavirus.
“It’s important to note that safety is Lifeblood’s number one priority and there is no risk to donors or staff from this initiative,” Ms Park said.
“Our convalescent plasma donors will have to satisfy the same strict eligibility criteria as our other donors and the process of collecting convalescent plasma is the same as the existing plasma donation process.”
If you have recovered from a confirmed diagnosis of COVID-19 and believe you may be eligible to donate, please call 13 14 95 and mention that you want to donate convalescent plasma or visit their website.