If you have fully recovered from Covid-19, you may be able to donate your antibodies, which helped you fight off the infection, to current Covid-19 patients in need by donating your plasma.
Welsh Blood Service is working as part of a Wales-wide partnership on two major UK clinical trials, RECOVERY and REMAP-CAP. These trials are exploring if antibody-rich plasma taken from recovered Covid-19 patients could be used to treat patients currently battling the virus.
In the past, this approach has been used to treat other newly emerging infections (such as Spanish flu, SARS and Ebola) and is known as passive immunotherapy.
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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 helps blood clot to stop bleeding, and plasma which contains many components such as minerals, hormones and proteins, including antibodies that help fight infection.
Your plasma contains antibodies that help fight infection. Antibodies are made by your immune system to help fight diseases such as colds and flu and other infections.
A transfusion of plasma containing antibodies from someone who has recovered from coronavirus may help people who are still ill recover.
Plasma donated by a recovered patient is called convalescent plasma. After a donation, your body quickly replaces the antibodies and plasma so you may be able to give regularly and potentially help more patients in need.
Who can donate Convalescent Plasma?
Donors aged 17-66* who have tested positive for Covid-19 who have been symptom-free for at least 28 days and meet our usual eligibility criteria, are able to donate convalescent plasma.
*If you have donated blood or platelets successfully within the last two years, you can donate plasma up to the age of 70.
Have a look at our eligibility criteria, which is put in place to make sure both donors and patients remain safe, to see if you are able to give blood.
How do I donate Convalescent Plasma?
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; and through plasma donation.
Donating plasma through a typical 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
However, plasma can also be donated directly using a process called plasmapheresis. This uses a machine which separates the four elements of blood but removes only the plasma, and returns the rest to the donor.
Donating through plasmapheresis will allow you donate more frequently. Plasmapheresis provides a greater amount of plasma than taking plasma from whole blood, and you may be asked to think about donating convalescent plasma in this way.