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COVID-19 Survivors Can Help Others by Donating Convalescent Plasma - CVPH effort underway to promote awareness, recruit donors

COVID-19 survivors can now help others fighting the virus by donating convalescent plasma at the Adirondack Region Blood Center, a program of the University of Vermont Health Network- Champlain Valley Physicians Hospital (CVPH).  

“If you give someone who is sick with COVID-19 convalescent plasma, especially in the early stages of the infection, it can help them fight the virus and recover,” explained CVPH Infectious Disease Specialist Keith Collins, MD. He added that timing plays an important part in the success of this therapy.  “A recent article in the New England Journal of Medicine showed that if it’s given within 72 hours of them getting sick with symptoms, they are about half as likely to be hospitalized.” 

The physician, who has been caring for COVID-19 patients in Plattsburgh since the virus first appeared in the North Country, encourages everyone who has had COVID-19 to consider donating.  “This is a way for people to help. It is probably the best way anyone who's had COVID-19 can help if they're willing to at least get screened, to see if they could be a donor. It would make such a big difference,” he said.  

The blood of COVID-19 survivors contains antibodies, substances that can attack the virus and help battle the disease. Antibodies are located in plasma, the liquid portion of blood, which is collected during a special donation process called apheresis.   

“Anyone who has had COVID will have antibodies however, for convalescent plasma to be effective as a therapy, a certain level of antibodies must be present,” explained Dr. Collins.  Donors are screened prior to the donation process to determine the level of antibodies in their plasma.  “A good rule of thumb is that if you have been hospitalized because of COVID-19 it’s likely your plasma contains an appropriate amount of antibodies.”  

In an effort to recruit donors and raise awareness about the benefits of convalescent plasma, CVPH is sharing information with COVID-survivors as they leave the hospital and includes additional information on the Adirondack Region Blood Center webpage, 

Donors must also be at least 14 days COVID symptom free or have a negative test and meet all other blood donation requirements. Anyone who is vaccinated against COVID-19 is not eligible to donate convalescent plasma at this time. 

Donations take place by appointment at the Adirondack Region Blood Center, 85 Plaza Blvd. The process takes about 30 minutes to complete.  Appointments can be scheduled by calling (518) 562-7406.