Several local hospitals are relying on convalescent plasma from recovered patients as the first line of treatment for COVID-19 patients—but, SunCoast Blood Centers leadership says, demand is high and there is not enough of the plasma available to meet patient needs. Blood centers around the country have been asked to double the amount of plasma collected in anticipation of greater need as more people with the virus are hospitalized. SunCoast says it currently only has enough available for 22 treatments for the 10 hospitals it serves.

SunCoast is testing every donor for exposure to SARS-CoV-2, the virus that causes COVID-19, but a very small percentage come back positive. The best candidates for convalescent plasma donation are those who had a positive diagnostic lab test for the virus and are completely recovered.  “When someone has a positive diagnostic test, they can donate their plasma right away,” said Jayne Giroux, director of community development for SunCoast. However, she adds, “They must be symptom free for at least 14 days before they donate.”

The FDA has relaxed many guidelines for donor eligibility by reducing the amount of time a donor is prohibited from donating from one year to three months.  This includes to travel to malaria endemic regions and time spent living overseas by members of the military and their families. If you had a positive diagnostic test for COVID-19, are fully recovered and have been symptom-free for a minimum of 14 days, Suncoast Blood Centers urges patients who have had  positive diagnostic test for COVID-19, are fully recovered and have been symptom-free for a minimum of 14 days to donate plasma this week. To make an an appointment, call (941) 993-8119.

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