ASBP: DoD Launches Effort to Collect COVID-19 Convalescent Plasma
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DoD Launches Effort to Collect COVID-19 Convalescent Plasma

06/02/2020
By Military Health System Communications Office
Donald Perry, a Fort Bragg civilian employee, recently recovered from COVID-19 and donated his plasma at the Fort Bragg Blood Donor Center on May 7. (Photo by Twana Atkinson)
Donald Perry, a Fort Bragg civilian employee, recently recovered from COVID-19 and donated his plasma at the Fort Bragg Blood Donor Center on May 7. (Photo by Twana Atkinson)

Patients who have recovered from COVID-19 may hold treatment in their veins that could help others who are critically ill with the respiratory infection.

The Department of Defense has begun an effort to collect 8,000 donated units of plasma from patients who have recovered from COVID-19 to support the development of an effective treatment against the disease.

“We may want to ask you to stick your arm out and donate blood,” Joint Chiefs of Staff Chairman Gen. Mark Milley said in a May 28 virtual town hall. “What that can then do is help others who are severely ill, and if we can do that, then we’ll be on a good path toward getting some really powerful therapeutics.”

Donations will be accepted at 15 Armed Services Blood Program centers across the continental United States, and in Hawaii, Guam, and Germany. (A complete list of centers accepting donations appears at the end of this article, and is available online.)

Patients fully recovered from COVID-19 are the only ones qualified to be COVID-19 convalescent plasma donors, said Army Col. Audra Taylor, chief of the Armed Services Blood Program. DOD personnel and their families, as well as non-DOD civilians with access to collection facilities on installations, are welcome to donate.

"Our goal as a lifesaving program is to always provide a safe and ample supply of blood products. The need is now,” Taylor stressed. “We are calling for all who are healthy, able, and eligible, to donate today to help us all stand mission ready and save lives."

Why convalescent plasma is collected

When a person contracts SARS-CoV-2, the virus that causes 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, Taylor explained.

Plasma with infection-fighting antibodies is called convalescent plasma, she said. Through the blood donation process, this plasma is collected from a donor who has recovered from COVID-19 and may be transfused into a sick patient who is still fighting the virus. The procedure may boost the immune system of the patient and help with the recovery process, Taylor said.

The collection process for this type of plasma is the same as standard apheresis collection, she noted. It is being investigated for the treatment of COVID-19 because there is no approved treatment for the disease at this time, and there is indication that it might help some patients recover from COVID-19.

Several COVID-19 patients in the Military Health System have received convalescent plasma transfusions as part of their treatment, Taylor said. The treatment, which must be carried out under an approved protocol, is used for those hospitalized and severely ill with the disease.

Eligibility requirements

Donating CCP is the same as a standard platelet or plasma donation and donors must meet specific requirements set by the Food and Drug Administration. Donors must be at least 17 years old, weigh at least 110 pounds, and be in good health. Women who have ever been pregnant may need additional testing for specific human leukocyte antigen antibodies that may be present in their blood. In addition to these standard requirements, those who have fully recovered from COVID-19 must be symptom-free for at least 14 days. Donors must also produce documented laboratory test results proving they tested positive for the virus, Taylor explained.

“If a donor believes they meet these requirements, they must first contact the local blood donor center before coming in, and if they qualify, set up an appointment,” said Army Col. Jason Corley, Army Blood Program director. “Once set up, the donor must bring the required documentation and undergo the standard donation procedure. Final determination will be made by the medical director or designee.”

ASBP Centers Collecting Convalescent Plasma
— Armed Services Blood Bank Center, Walter Reed National Military Medical Center, Bethesda, Maryland
— Naval Medical Center Portsmouth Blood Donor Center, Portsmouth, Virginia
— Fort Bragg Blood Donor Center, Fort Bragg, North Carolina
— Kendrick Memorial Blood Center, Fort Gordon, Georgia
— Sullivan Memorial Blood Center, Fort Benning, Georgia
— Blood Donor Center, Keesler Air Force Base, Mississippi
— Lackland Air Force Base Armed Services Blood Bank Center, Joint Base San Antonio-Lackland, Texas
— Robertson Blood Center, Fort Hood, Texas
— Akeroyd Blood Donor Center, Fort Sam Houston, Texas
— Fort Bliss Blood Donor Center, Fort Bliss, Texas
— Naval Medical Center San Diego Blood Donor Center, San Diego, California
— Armed Services Blood Bank Center-Pacific Northwest, Joint Base Lewis-McChord, Washington
— Tripler AMC Blood Donor Center, Tripler Army Medical Center, Hawaii
— Naval Hospital Blood Donor Center, Guam
— Armed Services Blood Bank Center Europe, Landstuhl Regional Medical Center, Germany

Links to More Information
— Armed Services Blood Program
— ASBP COVID-19-specific page
— Blood Drive and Donor Registration
— Facebook: /militaryblood
— Twitter: @militaryblood
— Instagram: @usmilitaryblood

This article was originally published at Health.mil, 05/29/20. Republished content may have been edited for length, clarity, and to follow ASBP style guidelines. View the original article here. https://health.mil/News/Articles/2020/05/29/DoD-launches-effort-to-collect-COVID-19-convalescent-plasma.

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.