American Red Cross calling for donors amid shortage of convalescent plasma

Emergency need for convalescent plasma

CHARLOTTE, N.C. (WBTV) - The American Red Cross is asking for donors to contribute convalescent plasma to help patients who are currently battling the coronavirus.

A memo from the humanitarian aid organization released Monday states that there is an emergency shortage of the plasma in the United States. The press release states that the Red Cross has seen demand for convalescent plasma more than double over the last month.

WBTV spoke to Maya Franklin, an external communications manager for the Red Cross, about the shortage.

“What we’re seeing right now is a huge problem with more units of this convalescent plasma being distributed to hospitals than is coming in,” Franklin said.

She explained that the plasma shortage is a result of the rise in coronavirus cases across the country.

“As we see the cases spike, the need for plasma will spike,” Franklin said.

She said the Red Cross has been able to collect and distribute more than 20,000 lifesaving convalescent plasma products nationwide and more than 500 products in North Carolina.

Novant Health Hematologist Dr. Tayo Fasan explained in a previous interview how the plasma treatment works.

Dr. Fasan said that when a patient gets a viral infection, their immune system responds by producing antibodies to fight off the infection.

“So, if you have a patient who had COVID-19 and recovered, they have made these neutralizing antibodies able to fight this infection. They can be a donor and we can harvest that plasma from them and infuse it into a patient who is still unwell,” Dr. Fasan said.

Franklin is encouraging those who have recovered from the virus to consider donating plasma to help others.

“It’s a great way to pay it forward to those who are in a state where they are in a critical need of something that can only come from another person, from someone who volunteers their time and it’s just an act of goodwill in a time where our communities need it most,” said Franklin.

To donate plasma, visit https://www.redcrossblood.org/.

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