(CBS Sports) - Several NBA players who have overcome the coronavirus plan to donate their blood for an experimental treatment that could ultimately help high-risk patients to overcome the virus, according to Dr. Michael Joyner, a member of the leadership team of the National COVID-19 Convalescent Plasma Project. The therapy is called convalescent plasma, and it utilizes the antibodies in the blood donated from recovered patients to fight the virus in patients that are sick.
Boston Celtics guard Marcus Smart confirmed he is one of the players planning to participate. Smart announced via social media that he had been cleared of the virus by the Massachusetts Department of Health earlier this week. At least three other players also plan to donate their blood to the cause, but the identities of those individuals are not known at this time.
Dr. Joyner plans to work with the players in order to find suitable donation sites. Due to their physical size and training level, NBA players could be especially valuable when it comes to plasma donations.
“These are big men with blood volumes, and as a result [they] have a lot of plasma volume,” Joyner said. “Frequently people who are physically trained also have an increase in their plasma volume from what you would expect from them just being regular-sized guys ... We believe [the treatment] can be disease-modifying and reduce duration and severity in some patients,”
Over the weekend, the NBA reached out to team doctors and encouraged players who have recovered from the coronavirus to consider donating their plasma to the project. The NBA also donated $100,000 to the National COVID-19 Convalescent Plasma Project as part of the recently launched NBA Together campaign. The NBA season has been indefinitely suspended since March 11 when Utah Jazz center Rudy Gobert tested positive for COVID-19, followed by a plethora of other players and NBA figures from across the league’s landscape, including New York Knicks owner James Dolan and former MVP Kevin Durant.