GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. — Versiti Blood Centers is urging those who have had COVID-19 to “pay it forward” by donating COVID convalescent plasma.
With coronavirus cases and hospitalizations soaring to new levels, the organization is struggling to keep up with hospital needs, according to a news release Wednesday.
The need for COVID convalescent plasma at hospitals served by Versiti has doubled in the last four weeks and is expected to continue to rapidly increase as cases continue to surge.
“We are facing a critical need,” said Dr. Dan Waxman, vice president of transfusion medicine and senior medical officer at Versiti. “Without intervention from the community, we face the very real possibility that we won’t be able to fill orders for patients in hospitals we serve. This important therapy cannot be manufactured. It comes from generous volunteer donors in our communities who have recovered from COVID and are now able to help hospitalized patients in those very same communities.”
COVID convalescent plasma is a blood-related therapy used by hospitals to treat the most severely-affected patients.
The donated plasma contains antibodies, which can help seriously ill patients fight the infection.
Versiti says that in recent days, the plasma has been shipping out to local hospitals three times faster than it is coming in.
They’ve been able to meet the demand so far with help from other blood centers – but they’re worried that those backup resources might soon not be available as COVID-19 cases rise across the country.
“Currently inventory levels of COVID convalescent plasma are an enormous concern; our inventory levels have dwindled from four weeks to four days,” Waxman said. “We’re pleading with the community – if you’ve been diagnosed with COVID and have been symptom-free for 14 days, please consider giving an hour of your time to help others who are facing an uphill climb in battling the virus.”
Those who have already donated COVID convalescent plasma and want to do so again should make an appointment by calling 1-866-642-5663.
Anyone interested in donating for the first time should visit versiti.org/covid19plasma.