The Blood Connection at the Forefront of COVID-19 Fight

National Call to Action Urges Americans to Donate Convalescent Plasma

GREENVILLE, SOUTH CAROLINA – An urgent plea from the President and top public health officials has thrust the potentially lifesaving effects of convalescent plasma into the national spotlight. Convalescent plasma has proven to drastically help many COVID-19 patients battling the virus. At a roundtable discussion on July 30, President Donald Trump, U.S. Surgeon General Jerome Adams, and Director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases Dr. Anthony Fauci, among others, urged the public to donate convalescent plasma to help their fellow Americans. The Blood Connection (TBC) has been at the forefront of local convalescent plasma collection efforts for several months, in its commitment to meet every patient’s need. Rarely is the blood collection community highlighted by nation leadership, but because of blood centers’ essential role in collecting convalescent plasma, TBC’s work is now part of a public health initiative.

“The need for this plasma has never been more urgent. That’s why we’ve worked closely with our hospitals and community partners to host mobile plasma drives and will continue to utilize our centers to provide the most opportunities for donation,” says TBC President and CEO, Delisa English. “So far we have impacted thousands of our neighbors, and we won’t stop until this battle is won.”

“As the world awaits a COVID-19 vaccine, millions of patients with COVID-19 need medical care right now—and the transfusion of COVID-19 convalescent plasma (CCP) is one of the best options we have at our disposal to help people recover,” American Association of Blood Banks CEO, Debra S. BenAvram, stated after the national announcement. “AABB and our blood community partners have been leading the charge from the beginning to drive additional donations of CCP and we welcome the federal government’s assistance in this critical effort.”

As COVID-19 cases continue to rise in the Carolinas, the demand for convalescent plasma is outrunning the supply. Not only are plasma units needed for current cases, a healthy stockpile of this product must stand ready to help patients at any time. TBC and the community hospitals it serves are calling for all eligible donors to give immediately to stabilize the supply. TBC belongs to a network of local blood centers, called America’s Blood Centers (ABC), who supply 60 percent of the national blood supply. ABC members have collectively sent out 100,000 doses of convalescent plasma to partner hospitals, as reported during the national roundtable discussion.

The Blood Connection wants the community to hear from some of the hard-working frontline physicians who are treating COVID-19 patients on the importance of convalescent plasma:

“Even though convalescent plasma is investigational, it’s one of the most effective treatments we have to treat patients with COVID-19. A delay in treatment could worsen patient outcomes. We ask that everyone who has recovered from COVID-19 please consider donating this potential life saver which is in such short supply right now.” –John Kudlak, DO, Division Chief Pulmonary, Critical Care and Sleep Medicine, Prisma Health (Upstate SC)

“For those fortunate enough to have recovered from their COVID-19 infection, donating plasma is an incredible opportunity for people to support others in their community who are sick with COVID-19.  MUSC’s partnership with The Blood Connection has allowed us to give convalescent plasma to nearly 150 patients and to give our patients a way to give back to others.  We are incredibly grateful to The Blood Connection for their commitment to our South Carolina patients and community.” –John Wrangle, Hematology and Oncology at MUSC Health (Charleston, SC)

 “Given the potentially lifesaving effect of convalescent plasma, and the current low inventory, please consider donating plasma today. The procedure is easy and one donation can positively impact several severely ill patients.” –Rick McEvoy, Medical Director for pathology, oncology and lab at Roper St. Francis Healthcare (Charleston, SC) 

“This plasma may contain antibodies to help current patients recover, and we need to expand supplies in blood banks to prepare for the greater number of cases we expect to see in the months ahead.” –Luther Bartelt, MD, infectious diseases at the UNC School of Medicine and lead investigator of the convalescent plasma program at UNC Medical Center (Raleigh, NC)

As many of these physicians have seen firsthand, just one convalescent plasma donation can make a lifesaving difference. The first convalescent plasma recipient in South Carolina – Lisa Hardin – now calls the product “liquid gold” in light of her miraculous recovery.

“I cannot explain to you the changes that miraculously started to happen inside of my body [after transfusion].  I felt like there was a battle going on in my body, but this time, I was winning,” said Hardin. “I fell into a hard and fast sleep after receiving the antibodies and when I woke up, I could not believe the energy I felt already.  I could breathe again, and the fever was gone! My doctors and nurses were amazed, but no one was more amazed than me!”

As this community’s blood center, it is imperative that donors give convalescent plasma with TBC. Donors must be symptom free for at least 14 days and bring proof of a positive COVID-19 test or positive COVID-19 antibody test in order to donate. Please call 864-751-1168 to make an appointment to donate plasma at select TBC blood drives or at any TBC center in North or South Carolina.