By Dr Gail Miflin - 16th April 2020 11:45am
The COVID-19 pandemic is affecting people in this country and indeed worldwide. We are so grateful to all our donors who have donated blood recently, despite the many difficulties we are all facing.
Might you be able to help in a different way to normal blood donations, that could have a lifesaving impact for people suffering from COVID-19?
NHS Blood and Transplant (NHSBT) is beginning to collect plasma from people who have recovered from COVID-19.
We envisage this will be used in trials as a possible treatment for COVID-19.
If approved, the trials will investigate whether convalescent plasma transfusions could improve a COVID-19 patient's speed of recovery and chances of survival.
We are asking our donors who usually donate at a donor centre to help, if you fulfil the following criteria:
1. You have had a positive test result for COVID-19, either at home or in hospital, or you have experienced the symptoms (fever and a persistent cough) at home
2. You are 21-28 days from recovery. Recovery is defined as either the point at which you were discharged from hospital, 14 days since the beginning of your symptoms, or when you began feeling completely well again — whichever is the longer
3. You would be willing to donate plasma for a clinical trial, or for routine use if the trial proves beneficial to patients
If you meet these criteria, please fill out the online form at www.nhsbt.nhs.uk/plasma-trial/
If you don't meet any of these criteria we would ask you not to complete the form at this time. We have limited resources to collect this potentially vital treatment and are keen to maximise the benefits for patients.
The plasma will be taken using a machine that works the same way as the platelet machine in our donor centres. Plasma collection on one of these machines takes about 45 mins and gives two units of plasma. Donations may be given as frequently as every two weeks.
The antibodies that are useful in treatment are a specific type of antibody that stops the virus growing and removes the virus. We know that the numbers of these antibodies in the blood rise steadily and become high enough for treatment 21-28 days after recovery. Because of this we will aim to collect 29 days after discharge from hospital or recovery, but we would like you to get in touch about a week earlier than this.
Please also note that If you can donate plasma, we will ask you to stop your usual whole blood or platelet donations for the time being.
Many thanks for supporting NHSBT at this most important time. We look forward to hearing from you.
Dr Gail Miflin
Chief Medical Officer and Director of Clinical Services
NHS Blood and Transplant