by Serena Gordon Healthday reporter, Melissa Sullivan, convalescent plasma donor, Washington, DC; Erin Goodhue, MD, Executive Medical Director, Patient Services, American Red Cross

(HealthDay) – Once you’ve recovered from COVID-19 infection, you can help up to four other COVID-19 patients get better simply by donating your plasma.

Is it worth? Just ask Melissa Sullivan.

The 35-year-old COVID-19 survivor and avowed needle-phobe donated her plasma shortly after her recovery and plans to do it again in two weeks.

“I was very scared when I was sick, but I came out the other side. So why not pay up? If I had needed it, I would have liked someone to have the courage. You can do an immeasurable. ” Difference in someone’s life, “said Sullivan.

COVID-19 infection blindsided Sullivan, who has consistently taken precautions to avoid the disease. She is an active, healthy marathon runner who works as a press officer for the US Environmental Protection Agency. She usually trains about five to six times a week and was on track to do her third Marine Corps marathon that year.

But one day in August Sullivan said, “I did a 6 mile run, which was pretty routine for me. After the run, my symptoms came on hard and quickly. I had shortness of breath, chills, and a fever. Later, I got severe Headache, nausea, dizziness and stomach flu symptoms. “

The day after her symptoms started, she was at the hospital where they monitored her oxygen levels and gave her IV fluids.

“It wasn’t as bad as it could have been, but it was probably one of the worst pains I’ve had in my life. I think my age and the fact that I’m healthy have helped me get better quickly to become, “said Sullivan.

Because she recovered relatively soon after her illness, Sullivan said, “I felt obliged to give back to others.”

Plasma is a part of the blood that carries antibodies. These infection-fighting proteins are made by the immune system in response to a specific infection. Experts hope that giving plasma containing COVID-19 antibodies (known as convalescent plasma) will boost the immune systems of people currently battling COVID-19 infections and help them recover.

Dr. Erin Goodhue, executive medical director for direct patient care for the American Red Cross, said plasma donation is pretty easy.

“It’s a little different than donating whole blood. We use an apheresis machine to separate the plasma from the rest of the blood. This requires two needles. Once the plasma is separated, getting the rest of your blood back with a little saline, it takes two to two and a half.” Hours and you can potentially save several lives, “she explained.

Sullivan confirmed that the process was relatively simple. “I never thought I could donate blood or plasma because I am so scared of needles. But then I thought I have these antibodies and they can help other people in meaningful ways so that I can get over them for a few hours. “”

She said the Red Cross staff really helped her throughout the donation process.

“I’m sure they have to deal with this a lot, but they understood my concerns and guided me through the process. They made me feel valued and it wasn’t as bad as I imagined it would be When it was over, I said, ‘Is that it?’ “Sullivan remarked.

Who is Eligible?

Goodhue said anyone with an official diagnosis of COVID-19 infection or who has antibodies to the infection can donate plasma.

“If you’ve struggled and recovered from COVID, we want you to donate,” she said.

People must be free of COVID-19 symptoms, including coughing or breathing problems of any kind, for 14 days before they can donate.

Once someone has donated, they can do so more than once. In fact, Goodhue said they can donate once every seven days (no more than eight times) within three months.

The American Red Cross also offers COVID-19 antibody tests to all blood donors. If someone tests positive for COVID-19 antibodies, the plasma from that donation can be used as a convalescent plasma donation.

Sullivan said she would suggest that any COVID-19 survivor consider donating. “It’s a few hours out of your day and a few minutes of discomfort, but look at the potential implications.”

Your own story has a happy ending. On October 25th she was able to complete the Marine Corps Marathon in Washington, DC.

“I was about 45 minutes slower, probably because I had a month off. But I was happy to get out there and do it,” Sullivan said.

Follow the latest news on the Coronavirus (COVID-19) outbreak

More information:
When you’ve recovered from COVID-19, learn more about the American Red Cross Convalescent Plasma Donation: www.redcrossblood.org/donate-b… vid-19-patient.html

Provided by Melissa Sullivan, Convalescent Plasma Donor, Washington, DC; Erin Goodhue, MD, Executive Medical Director, Patient Services, American Red Cross

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Quote: Fit, 35 years old and hospitalized with COVID. Woman donates plasma to help others (2020, November 5th). Retrieved November 5, 2020 from https://medicalxpress.com/news/2020-11-hospitalized-covid-woman-donates-plasma. html

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