SPRINGFIELD, Mo.- Both Mercy Hospital and Community Blood Center of the Ozarks are working non-stop to encourage recovered COVID-19 patients to donate.
When the pandemic began, the Food and Drug Administration allowed for emergency use of donated COVID-19 antibodies for people who are currently in the hospital fighting the virus.
“COVID-19 cases have exploded in the area; it’s as simple as that. If you’ve got more COVID-19 patients in our ICUs and area hospitals, you’re going to need that CCP more and more, and that’s exactly what we’re seeing,” says Media Relations Representative Chris Pilgrim.
But with an urgent need across the country, Pilgrim says the only convalescent plasma local hospitals can use must come from donors here in the Ozarks.
“A few weeks ago, there were some import opportunities from other independent blood centers if we needed CCP, didn’t have enough; we could get that. But with the nationwide explosion of COVID cases that are happening right now, people are tending to hold on to their supplies; those import opportunities aren’t here anymore, so we’re on our own.”
Pilgrim says CBCO has recently increased the number of convalescent plasma donations per day from 10 to 40.
Each person that donates will receive a $100 gift card for each visit. The FDA is funding it.
So how does it work? First, you must determine whether you are eligible to donate.
You are eligible to donate plasma if:
- You have tested positive for COVID-19 and have documentation to prove it.
- Have recovered from the virus and have documentation to prove it.
- It’s been at least 14 days since you last felt symptoms.
- You meet all other criteria for donating blood at CBCO.
- Pilgrim says anyone who tested positive for COVID-19 as far back as July 1st may still have enough antibodies to donate.
After scheduling an appointment at CBCO, the process is easy. Cynthia Campo, a first-time convalescent plasma donor at CBCO Thursday, says it took about two hours total.
“Your every need is met. It’s a very pleasant, delightful experience.”
Campo says she was able to donate three bags of plasma that will go on to help three different patients.
“I was informed that our plasma, post-COVID positive people, could help someone who’s in the ICU on a ventilator to have a better outcome.”
Mercy has recently changed its process for generating donors to make it easier for patients to find out if they are eligible.
In past months, Mercy was reaching out directly to all COVID-19 patients who had tested positive.
Recently, the hospital has changed its strategy. JoAnne Levy, vice president of Mercy Research, says staff are now sending alerts to all Mercy patients who have tested positive through the MyMercy app to inform them they might be eligible to donate.
Those who show interest can fill out a short questionnaire online. That information is then sent to CBCO, streamlining the process and making it easier for recovered patients to donate without bringing in documentation.
For those who did not receive a COVID-19 test at Mercy or have not set up a MyMercy app account, there are still ways the research staff can help. You can send any inquiries to email@example.com.
You can also see if your eligible for donating convalescent plasma at CBCO by clicking here. If you are eligible, you can set up an appointment to donate by calling 417-227-5324 during regular business hours.