There is new hope for COVID-19 patients: plasma donated from patients who have recovered from the virus.
Plasma is the liquid part of the blood that, when taken from someone who has survived COVID-19, contains antibodies that could attack the SARS-CoV-2 virus. While there is currently no known cure for COVID-19, scientists believe that the plasma could be a treatment for those who are at high-risk or are currently severely ill with the virus.
According to the Red Cross, “Historically, convalescent plasma has been used as a potentially lifesaving treatment when new diseases or infections develop quickly, and no treatments or vaccines were available yet.”
While plasma transfusions are not proven to be effective, the FDA says the process is “generally safe for most patients” and information suggests that the treatment could be helpful to some patients.
Two New Paltz residents who have recently recovered from COVID-19, Carol and Ed Lundergan, are currently in the process to donate plasma. When Carol saw a Facebook post about donating plasma through the Vassar Hospital’s program, she jumped at the chance.
“It was really a no-brainer,” Carol said. “We were so lucky to have survived this terrible disease — how could we not help others who aren’t as fortunate as we are? We believe it’s our responsibility to help others now that we have recovered — it’s the least we can do, and we feel privileged to be able to help.”
The first step for Carol and Ed — and others hoping to donate plasma — is to get retested to ensure they have completely recovered from COVID-19.
Once they receive a negative test result, the Lundergans will travel to the Albany Red Cross to have their blood tested for antibodies. If there are enough antibodies, they will be able to donate plasma through the Red Cross’ COVID-19 Convalescent Plasma Program.
Although Carol and Ed had a “long slog” with the virus, and are still fatigued from spending 24 and 27 days — respectively — fighting the virus, they were never sick enough to need plasma.
“If I had become very ill and needed hospitalization, absolutely I would have wanted plasma,” Carol said. “If the plasma trials work, it will be an absolute godsend to everyone who is suffering. It is our fervent hope that our plasma can help save someone’s life. That would make this all worthwhile — something good coming from something bad.”
To sign up to donate plasma, visit redcrossblood.org.