Plasma donors sought among recovered COVID-19 patients

picture of a plastic bag of blood plasma collected from a donor
Wikimedia Commons | Biblioteca Biomedica
Golden-hued plasma and medication made from it are used to treat diseases.

UW Medicine and Bloodworks Northwest are seeking adult volunteers who have recovered from documented SARS-CoV-2 (COVID-19) infection to be considered for donation of plasma.

Plasma is the liquid component of blood that contains various proteins. Antibodies are proteins in plasma that defend your body against infections. Donated plasma can be used to make medicine containing antibodies to treat people who are fighting a severe infection or who cannot make antibodies on their own. Plasma and medication made from it are used routinely to treat many different diseases. It is unknown whether the antibodies in plasma from people who have recovered from COVID-19 can help people who are ill with a COVID infection.

“We are excited about moving forward in this time of a serious pandemic to develop a potential new therapy for this infection,” said Dr. Terry Gernsheimer, a professor of medicine (hematology) at the University of Washington School of Medicine. She is a co-lead investigator for the research study.

Plasma is collected by plasmapheresis, a process with a specialized medical instrument that separates plasma from the cells in the blood. This safe and sterile process collects the plasma, while remaining blood (including red blood cells and white blood cells) is returned to the plasma donor. The body rapidly replaces the plasma and the proteins that are removed, so people can donate once every two weeks.

If you are in general good health and have recovered from a COVID-19 infection, you might be able to help. Your first visit would be at the University of Washington Virology Research Clinic to assess your health and confirm your COVID-19 infection. At that visit, blood would be drawn to see whether you would qualify to be a plasma donor. Depending on the results, you may be invited to make an appointment at Bloodworks Northwest for further screening to become a plasma donor.

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