ASBP: ASBP Seeking Plasma Donors to Fight COVID-19
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ASBP Seeking Plasma Donors to Fight COVID-19

05/27/2020
By ASBP Communications
The Armed Services Blood Program is seeking people who have recovered from COVID-19 to give convalescent plasma to help others still fighting the disease. This convalescent plasma program is part of a Food and Drug and Administration emergency use investigational new drug (eIND) protocol.
The Armed Services Blood Program is seeking people who have recovered from COVID-19 to give convalescent plasma to help others still fighting the disease. This convalescent plasma program is part of a Food and Drug and Administration emergency use investigational new drug (eIND) protocol.

On April 3, 2020, the Food and Drug and Administration announced that it is working collaboratively with other government, industry, and academic partners to approve an emergency use investigational new drug (eIND) protocol as an option to treat patients suffering from COVID-19. That eIND treatment is convalescent plasma: in this case, the collection of plasma from a donor who has recovered from COVID-19.

Since the 1890s, convalescent plasma has helped reduce the severity of infectious disease outbreaks before the development of antimicrobial therapy in the 1940s. In the past, convalescent plasma was used to treat outbreaks of infectious disease such as measles, mumps, and influenza. Recently, it was used to help treat both HINI influenza and Ebola.

How it Works

When a person contracts a virus — here, SARS-CoV-2, the virus that causes the disease COVID-19 — their immune system creates antibodies to fight the virus. These antibodies are found in the person’s plasma, the liquid part of blood. Plasma with these infection-fighting antibodies is called “convalescent plasma.” Through the blood donation process, this plasma is collected from a recovered person and transfused into a sick patient who is still fighting the virus. This may boost the immune system of the patient and help with the recovery process.

While it is not known for certain that the treatment will be effective, there is anecdotal evidence that suggests it might. The Armed Services Blood Program is actively seeking people who have fully recovered from COVID-19 to donate convalescent plasma for seriously ill coronavirus patients.

“As one of four national blood collection programs in the U.S., the ASBP is in a unique position to help those suffering from COVID-19. We are asking if you are able and eligible, consider donating convalescent plasma at one of our centers. This lifesaving treatment will help others in the fight,” said Army Col. Audra L. Taylor, ASBP division chief, Defense Health Agency.

Eligibility Requirements

To donate convalescent plasma, at a minimum, you must meet the basic donation requirements of being 17 years of age or older, weigh at least 110 pounds, be in good health, and meet additional travel/medical restrictions. Along with this, if you have ever been pregnant, additional testing may be needed to determine if you have developed HLA antibodies since your last pregnancy.

To qualify for this program, you must:

  1. Have evidence of COVID-19 documented by a laboratory test, either by:
    1. A diagnostic test (e.g., nasopharyngeal swab) at the time of illness; or
    2. A positive serological test for SARS-CoV-2 antibodies after recovery, if prior diagnostic testing was not performed at the time COVID-19 was suspected.
  2. Have a complete resolution of symptoms at least 14 days before donation. A negative result for COVID-19 by a diagnostic test is?not?necessary to qualify the donor.

If a donor believes they meet these requirements, they MUST first contact their local blood donor center for additional information before coming in, and if they qualify, set up an appointment.

Once the appointment is confirmed, the donor must bring the required documentation and undergo the standard donation procedure. Final determination will be made by the medical director or designee.

Please contact your nearest ASBP blood donor center for more information: https://militaryblood.dod.mil/Donors/where_to_give.aspx.

About the Armed Services Blood Program

Since 1962, the Armed Services Blood Program has been the sole provider of blood for the United States military. The ASBP’s mission is to provide quality blood products and services for all worldwide customers in both peacetime and war. As a division of the Defense Health Agency’s Combat Support Directorate, we focus on equipping the warfighter with lifesaving blood and blood products needed on the battlefield as well as in military treatment facilities. Working as a joint operation, the ASBP collects, processes, stores, and distributes blood and blood products to service members, their families, retirees, and veterans around the world.

Since the ASBP’s inception, more than 1.5 million units of blood have been provided to treat battlefield illnesses and injuries. Blood and blood products are used for military patients of all ages for many reasons, and must be available at military hospitals for scheduled and emergency procedures. Each unit is critical to the mission. As one of four national blood collection organizations trusted to ensure the nation has a safe, potent blood supply, the ASBP works closely with our civilian counterparts in times of need.

To find out more about the ASBP or to schedule an appointment to donate, please visit https://www.militaryblood.dod.mil. To interact directly with ASBP staff members, see more photos, or get the latest news, follow @militaryblood on Facebook, Twitter, Flickr, YouTube, and @usmilitaryblood on Instagram.