Convalescent plasma FAQs

If you have recovered from Covid-19, your plasma may contain antibodies which can be used to help others.

Plasma donated by a recovered patient is called convalescent plasma. If you are now fit and feeling well, we would like to ask if you might be able to donate some of your plasma to treat patients who are still very ill with Covid-19.

About plasma
What is convalescent plasma?
What is plasmapheresis?
What are antibodies?

About donating
Who can donate convalescent plasma?
How do I donate convalescent plasma?
How do I book to donate convalescent plasma?
What tests will you do on my donation?
Do you have a test for Covid-19 antibodies?
What happens to my donation?
Do I have to donate?
What if I change my mind after booking an appointment?

About you
How did you get my details?
Will I definitely be able to give convalescent plasma?
Will I get my antibody results?
What will you do with my information?
Will anyone know I’ve had Covid-19?
Will the person receiving my transfusion or the hospital team treating the recipient be able to identify me?



What is convalescent plasma?

Blood contains four main elements, red blood cells, which carry oxygen around the body, white blood cells, which fight infection, platelets, which help stop bleeding, and plasma which contains components such as minerals, hormones and proteins, including antibodies that help fight infection.

After a viral infection, your plasma contains antibodies that help fight that specific viral infection. Antibodies are made by your immune system to help fight diseases such as colds and other infections. Antibodies are at their highest levels in the first few weeks and months after infection.

A transfusion of “convalescent plasma” containing antibodies obtained from someone who has recovered from Covid-19 may help people who are still ill with the disease.

 


What is plasmapheresis?

Plasma is found within the blood stream and can be collected either through a whole blood donation or through a process called plasmapheresis.

Plasmapheresis donations take blood from a donor and transfer it through a specialist machine which separates the plasma before safely returning the remaining blood components to the donor.

 


What are antibodies?

After a viral infection, your plasma contains antibodies that help fight that specific viral infection. Antibodies are made by your immune system to help fight diseases such as colds and other infections.

Antibodies are at their highest levels in the first few weeks and months after infection.

 


Who can donate convalescent plasma?

Recovered Covid-19 patients will only be able to book a donation providing they have been invited to do so by Public Health Wales (PHW).

To be able to donate convalescent plasma male donors must:

  • be aged between 17-66* years old;
  • have tested positive for Covid-19;
  • have been symptom-free for at least 28 days; and,
  • meet our usual eligibility criteria.

*If you already donate, you can donate up until your 70th birthday. If you are over 70 and in good health, you can continue to give blood provided you have given a full donation in the previous two years.

 


How do I donate convalescent plasma?

Recovered Covid-19 patients will only be able to book a donation providing they have been invited to do so by Public Health Wales (PHW).

Once you have recovered and at least 28 days have passed since your symptoms disappeared, you may be able to help others affected by the Covid-19 outbreak by donating your plasma.

There are two methods of donating convalescent plasma: through whole blood donation; or through plasmapheresis.

Donating plasma through a standard whole blood donation
When you give convalescent plasma through whole blood, you as a donor give a normal blood donation, but it is processed differently behind the scenes.

This means your red blood cells can also be used to help patients, and you will be able to give blood again in three months time.

Donating through plasmapheresis

Plasmapheresis donations take blood from a donor and  process it through a specialist machine which separates the plasma and then safely returns the other blood components to the donor.

This allows recovered Covid-19 patients to safely donate up to two units of convalescent plasma every two weeks.

 


How do I book to donate convalescent plasma?

There are two different ways to donate convalescent plasma.

To donate via plasmapheresis call 0800 252 266.

To donate via a blood donation click here or call 0800 252 266.

 


What tests will you do on my donation?

All donations are tested for blood type, and for markers suggestive of infection with Hepatitis B, C, and E; HIV; HTLV and Syphilis. In addition to our standard tests, we will also test to:

  • measure your current Covid-19 antibody levels;
  • for a plasmapheresis donation we will also test your full blood count and total protein level.

 


Do you have a test for Covid-19 antibodies?

Yes. We now have tests used during the screening process for plasmapheresis that tell us if you have Covid-19 antibodies and what your antibody levels are.

These tests will allow us to decide which individuals are eligible to donate convalescent plasma for use in the clinical trials.

 


What happens to my donation?

Donating plasma through a standard whole blood donation
The whole blood donation will be returned to our laboratory to be tested. The unit will then be split into its components, including the plasma. Around 300ml of plasma can be collected this way.

Donating through plasmapheresis
The plasmapheresis donation will be returned to our laboratory to be tested. Each donation will consist of up to two units of convalescent plasma, depending on the donor’s height and weight. The donation will be frozen. Up to 600 ml of plasma can be collected this way.

 


Do I have to donate?

No, convalescent plasma donation is an entirely voluntary procedure and it is your choice whether or not you donate.

If you have received a letter or phone call from Public Health Wales and do not want to donate, please let us know by calling the Welsh Blood Service on 0800 252 266.

If we do not hear from you, you will not be contacted to donate plasma.

 


What if I change my mind after booking an appointment?

That’s no problem. Contact us on 0800 252 266 to cancel or rearrange your appointment.

Please let us know if you do not want us to make any further contact and we will update our database accordingly.

As most convalescent plasma donations we collect are intended for use in clinical trials, we will retain donor information provided by Public Health Wales for at least 15 years after completion or discontinuation of these trials.

 


How did you get my details?

People who have tested positive in Wales are contacted by Public Health Wales and encouraged to book a donation with the Welsh Blood Service.

All data is stored securely by Public Health Wales and not shared with the Welsh Blood Service without your permission.

 


Will I definitely be able to give convalescent plasma?

The usual eligibility criteria will still apply when you donate – if your haemoglobin is too low, for example, you won’t be able to donate.

Have a look at our ‘Can I give blood?‘ pages for more information.

 


Will I get my antibody results?

For individuals who have chosen to donate via plasmapheresis, we will let you know if your antibody results are too low to take part in the trial.

If your antibody levels are too low, you will still be able to donate blood to help other patients in need.

 


What will you do with my information?

As most convalescent plasma donations we collect are intended for use in clinical trials, we will keep donor information provided by Public Health Wales for at least 15 years after completion or discontinuation of these .

NHS Wales controls information held by the Welsh Blood Service. We collect, store and use your information in line with our Data Protection Policy.

 


Will anyone know I’ve had Covid-19?

No. Your medical records are private, and will be treated in confidence.

As far as other donors are concerned, you will simply be another blood donor.

 


Will the person receiving my transfusion or the hospital team treating the recipient be able to identify me?

No, all donations are anonymised.

Neither the staff treating patients nor the patients themselves can identify the donor from the units of blood or plasma hung at the bedside.