The Most Common Questions about Donating Plasma to Fight COVID-19

  • What is convalescent plasma donation?

    Those who have fully recovered from Covid-19 have generally developed antibodies in their blood.  Those antibodies seem to be very useful to others who may be still fighting the virus.  The word Convalescent simply refers to a person who has recovered from a particular illness.  

  • How long will the process take to donate plasma?

    You will need to fill out significant paperwork with a blood collection center near you. One of the most complicated parts of the process is that you will need a positive Coronavirus test as well as a negative test.  In lieu of those two, you may also provide a positive antibody test.  Requirements may change from one collector to the next.  The collection process itself may also change depending on whether the collector takes whole blood or separates out the plasma and returns the whole blood to you.  In terms of time it takes on the day of donation, I would estimate around 1 hour.  

  • How do I obtain a negative coronavirus test?

    Speaking from my own experience, this is the most difficult part of the equation. However, rapid testing is becoming increasingly available, and if you volunteer for plasma donation, it will increase the likelihood, you will be able to obtain such a test. Check with One Blood, The Red Cross, or your local blood collector and ask if they have advice on where you can secure a negative test. In many cases, you can now provide a positive antibody test in lieu of a negative COvid test.  The cost of an antibody test may well be covered by your insurance and if it is not should cost between 45 and 75 dollars.  Check with your local urgent care or doctor.  

  • Is there a cost associated with plasma donation?

    No. Other than the time it takes you to complete the process.

  • Will I know who my plasma goes to?

    In all likelihood, no. Person to person donations are extremely rare and require far more coordination on the part of the collection agency. The idea here is to fill the plasma banks so that when a patient is in desperate need, the plasma is there for the taking.  In the early parts of this pandemic, person to person transfers were far more common but the time it takes often proves fatal to the waiting and critically ill patient.  

  • How long can plasma be stored after it is collected?

    Plasma can be stored for up to one year.

  • How does plasma differ from blood donation?

    The process is quite similar. Your blood will be collected through a needle in your arm. The process of collecting plasma is evolving rapidly and in some cases, they are now extracting the plasma from your blood and then returning your blood back into your body through the same needle. Returning your blood enables the collector to secure more plasma to treat more critically ill patients. If you donate whole blood, the collector will have to process your blood separately and extract the plasma from the blood in a secondary process.  Generally speaking it is believed that whole blood can treat one patient while separating the plasma from the blood and returning the blood to the donor allows for enough plasma to be collected to treat up to three patients.  

  • How many people can benefit from my donation?

    Your blood will be collected through a needle in your arm. The process of collecting plasma is evolving rapidly and in some cases, they are now extracting the plasma from your blood and then returning your blood back into your body through the same needle. Returning your blood enables the collector to secure more plasma to treat more critically ill patients. If you donate whole blood, the collector will have to process your blood separately and extract the plasma from the blood in a secondary process.  Generally speaking it is believed that whole blood can treat one patient while separating the plasma from the blood and returning the blood to the donor allows for enough plasma to be collected to treat up to three patients.  

  • How often can I donate?

    Each collector may have different rules and the FDA also sets the limits depending on the urgency of need.  Currently, One Blood allows donors to participate once every 21 days.  

  • Is convalescent plasma a proven treatment for coronavirus?

    Convalescent plasma is still in the early stages of investigation by the scientific and medical community. According to the FDA, “It is not currently known if convalescent plasma will be an effective treatment against Covid-19.” However, information suggests plasma transfusions as a helpful option to seriously ill patients.  You can find many of these stories on our website.  

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