Florida hospitals need plasma donations to treat coronavirus

Posted at 6:35 AM, Apr 17, 2020
and last updated 2020-04-17 07:25:26-04

WEST PALM BEACH, Fla. — People who have recovered from COVID-19 have an opportunity to help save someone else’s life by donating plasma.

Plasma is in short supply and now hospitals are working with OneBlood to spread the word about the potentially life-saving therapy.

HCA East Florida hospitals, including JFK Medical Center in Palm Beach County, are working with the blood donation organization to encourage donations and create a pipeline to build up a supply.

A plasma transfusion happened earlier this week at JFK, and we’ve seen several others throughout our community in the past week alone. It can take 2-15 days to know if the therapy is working.

Convalescent plasma from a recovered patient contains antibodies to fight infection. When transfused into a patient fighting COVID-19, it can help boost their immune system and help them fight the virus, according to OneBlood. The FDA has approved the therapy on an emergency basis.

You must meet certain criteria in order to donate. According to OneBlood, you need prior diagnosis of COVID-19 documented by an FDA approved laboratory, meaning either a positive diagnostic test at the time of illness or a positive serological test for SARS-CoV-2 antibodies after recovery. You also need a complete resolution of symptoms at least 14 days prior to donation and a documented negative COVID-19 FDA approved test or complete resolution of symptoms at least 28 days prior to donation. As a part of your pre-donation process, you will be required to provide your COVID-19 test result.

Donnie Rosario, with HCA East Florida’s division of laboratory services, says he hopes the partnership with OneBlood can help bring more awareness to the need for convalescent plasma.

He says plasma donations have happened at three South Florida HCA hospitals, including JFK Medical Center, Mercy Hospital and Westside Regional. All three were directed donations, where the family, doctor or hospital find someone to donate plasma for the patient. In that case, the process starts with the family or physician to facilitate the process with OneBlood.

However, Rosario says the goal is to have enough convalescent plasma that directed donations wouldn’t be needed.

He says they are also working with patients as they are discharged from the hospital after recovering from COVID-19 to let them know this option is out there.

“I think it’s more and more important to bring the awareness out there and make sure people understand that once they’ve recovered from COVID-19, they have a big and unique opportunity to donate and help someone who’s having trouble fighting the virus,” said Rosario.

To begin the process, visit OneBlood’s website and fill out the paperwork to see if you are eligible. After you complete the forms, someone from OneBlood will contact you about setting up an appointment to donate.

The Red Cross is also working to gather convalescent plasma donations.

HCA East Florida encompasses Aventura Hospital and Medical Center, Highlands Regional Medical Center, JFK Medical Center-Main Campus, JFK Medical Center-North Campus, Kendall Regional Medical Center, Longwood Regional Medical Center, Mercy Hospital, Northwest Medical Center, Palms West Hospital, Plantation General Hospital, Raulerson Hospital, St. Lucie Medical Center, University Hospital and Westside Regional Medical Center.