Wales’ first plasmapheresis donor backs call for more donors in Wales to step forward

The first donor in Wales to donate plasma through the Welsh Blood Service’s new ‘plasmapheresis’ process is calling on other males who have recovered from COVID-19 to consider donating their plasma to support medical trials.

Clinical trials are currently underway to explore if the antibody-rich plasma of recovered Covid-19 patients could be used in the treatment of hospital patients that are unwell with the virus.

Andrew Thomas, a police officer for South Wales Police, was the first donor in Wales to donate his plasma through the plasmapheresis process at Talbot Green. He said: “Back in June I had Covid-19 which thankfully I recovered from. It wasn’t a very pleasant experience. I had high a temperature going up to 39.6 and fatigue was the biggest thing for me.

“I was aware of the convalescent plasma donation programme so when I was contacted to donate I signed up immediately. I wanted to do something that could help someone else going through what I did.”

Males who have had Covid-19 symptoms but have been symptom-free for 28 days can donate plasma in one of two ways: through a routine blood donation or through a process called plasmapheresis.

The plasmapheresis process uses specialist equipment to remove the plasma from a donor’s blood and returns the red cells. Donation by plasmapheresis is available at the Welsh Blood Service premises in Talbot Green and Wrexham.

Donation through plasmapheresis allows donors to donate up to two units of plasma every two weeks. Donation through whole blood is only possible every 12 weeks.

Andrew added: “I felt really safe and experienced no discomfort whatsoever during the entire donation process. The staff took fantastic care of me and were complete professionals.

“I felt great after donating. The fact I might have given someone the chance of recovering from COVID-19 fills me with an enormous sense of pride. I have now given six units of plasma during three donations and have already booked my forth.

“I would urge anyone else who has recovered to come and give plasma. It’s painless, it’s quick and it’s a good cause. Together we can be stronger and we can beat this so please if you’ve contracted Covid-19 I urge you, please help.”

Along with other UK blood services, the Welsh Blood Service is collecting convalescent plasma for use in two major UK-wide coronavirus treatment trials RECOVERY and REMAP-CAP.

Initial results from the studies have found that plasma antibody levels that were high enough for potentially lifesaving transfusions were more likely to come from recovered COVID-19 male patients who have been seriously ill.

The Welsh Blood Service is now urging any males who have recovered from COVID-19 or believe they have had an unconfirmed case of the illness to come forward and donate.

Alan Prosser, Welsh Blood Service Director, said: “The results we are seeing from the UK wide clinical trials mean we want to hear from men, between the ages of 17 to 70* as the evidence so far is that men are more seriously affected by coronavirus and thus produce more antibodies.

“If you have recovered from infection or think you have had an unconfirmed case of COVID-19 and you are now clear of all symptoms please help the NHS in the fight against this virus.”

If you’re a male who has recently recovered from Covid-19, please call 0800 252 266 or visit welshblood.org.uk to book a lifesaving donation.

For further information about donating plasma click here.