I’ve been so excited for the day when I could write this post! I found out today that my convalescent plasma donation was sent to McLaren Macomb in Mount Clemens, Michigan to help COVID-19 patients in need. How cool is that?
Let me back up:
On May 4th, I was officially 28-days symptom free from COVID-19. On that very day I went into North Portland to donate my convalescent plasma. I was originally scheduled to donate plasma and platelets. However, once they found out I was a COVID-19 survivor they asked if I’d do just plasma. The reason being that when both plasma & platelets are harvested, they are able to get enough plasma to help two other patients. When just plasma is harvested, they are able to help three other patients.
What is convalescent plasma and why is it such a big deal that it gets donated?
Convalescent plasma is collected from a previously infected individual (such as myself) to transfer the antibodies in my blood to a person who is severely ill and unable to make the antibodies on their own. COVID-19 convalescent plasma treatment is so new that it hasn’t been approved by the FDA and is therefore regulated as an investigational product, and can only be used on eligible patients. According to the FDA’s website, an eligible patient must meet certain criteria:
- Laboratory confirmed COVID-19
- Severe or immediately life-threatening COVID-19:
- Severe disease is defined as one or more of the following:
- shortness of breath (dyspnea),
- respiratory frequency ≥ 30/min,
- blood oxygen saturation ≤ 93%,
- partial pressure of arterial oxygen to fraction of inspired oxygen ratio < 300,
- lung infiltrates > 50% within 24 to 48 hours
- Life-threatening disease is defined as one or more of the following:
- respiratory failure,
- septic shock,
- multiple organ dysfunction or failure
The donation procedure was really interesting. I’ve attached a photo of me in the donation chair below. Plasma is collected by drawing whole blood, separating the plasma from the red blood cells, and then returning the blood along with sterile saline solution to help the body replace the plasma that was removed. This is done in cycles and it took about 90 minutes including the setup time. In the second picture you’ll see a bag with a golden color liquid. That is my plasma!
Two of the coolest moments came after donation. The first was getting this email from the American Red Cross:
The second was just today when I found out where my plasma had been sent.
I’ve been asked if I get paid to donate plasma. I don’t! But knowing that it could save someone’s life is payment enough. And I’ll continue to donate as often as I can (every 28 days). In fact my next date with the donation chair is this Monday, June 1st!
That’s all for now. It has been such a pleasure writing this blog and hearing from those of you who have learned something or have enjoyed my writing. I am not sure what more COVID-19 will throw our way, or what else will strike me as something to write about, but it has been so wonderful to have this outlet as a way to share and connect. Thank you for your love and support along the way!