ASBP: Fort Gordon’s First COVID-19 Convalescent Plasma Donor Gives Back
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Fort Gordon’s First COVID-19 Convalescent Plasma Donor Gives Back

07/15/2020
By Erin Longacre, ASBP Blood Donor Recruiter, Fort Gordon, Georgia
Army Spc. Adrian Quintero donates CCP.
Army Spc. Adrian Quintero donates CCP.

When Army Spc. Adrian Quintero heard that his previous COVID-19 diagnosis meant his blood could be used as a helpful treatment for those currently battling the disease, he was more than happy to help.

As a Specialist in Eisenhower Army Medical Center’s Occupational Health Clinic, Quintero recently became the first donor to give COVID-19 convalescent plasma, or CCP, at Fort Gordon’s Kendrick Memorial Blood Center. Quintero learned of his positive test results around the beginning of April. He’d just returned from a trip to see family in Texas in early March, and noticed while running his breathing wasn’t normal.

“I had tightness in my chest when I was running,” said Quintero. “Usually I’m pretty good with my cardio so that was unusual for me.”

Then Quintero learned that his grandfather, whom he’d just seen, had tested positive for the disease.

“He’s recovered now, so that’s a blessing, but he had to be hospitalized,” Quintero said. “It was a scary time.”

Fortunately, Quintero did not become ill with many of the symptoms associated with COVID-19, and now that he is no longer at risk of spreading the virus, he volunteered to help combat the disease by donating plasma. Kendrick Memorial Blood Center, as part of the Armed Services Blood Program, is one of many ASBP sites collecting for the Department of Defense goal to provide up to 10,000 COVID-19 convalescent plasma units by Sept 30, 2020.

So how does convalescent plasma work?

When a person contracts a virus, in this case SARS-CoV-2, the virus that causes COVID-19, their immune systems create antibodies to fight the virus. These antibodies are found in the plasma — the liquid part of blood. Through the blood donation process, this plasma is collected from a donor who has recovered from COVID-19 and is 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.

Collected CCP is available for the treatment of severely ill patients with COVID-19 in DoD medical treatment facilities worldwide and will support the national pandemic response as needed. As the official blood program of the U.S. military, the ASBP is working to make this goal happen. The most important resource are donors who are willing to join the fight.

To be eligible, donors must be at least 17 years old, weigh 116 pounds, and be in good health. To qualify for this specific program, donors must have fully recovered from COVID-19, have documentation of a positive test for SARS-CoV-2 (diagnostic or serological) and be symptom-free for at least 14 days before donation. For donors who have ever been pregnant, additional testing may be required to determine if human leukocyte antigen (HLA) antibodies were developed since their last pregnancy. For more information on donating CCP, see the ASBP COVID-19 and Blood Donation page.

If a donor believes they meet these requirements, they should contact Kendrick Memorial Blood Center before coming in to see if they qualify and set up an appointment.

For Quintero, the decision to donate was easy. “I know the impact that this virus has had on my family, and a lot of families,” he said. “If this is something I can do to help, I’m more than willing to.”

Army Maj. Victoria McCarthy, chief of blood services at Eisenhower Army Medical Center, said she was grateful for donors like Quintero.

“Donating is a selfless act,” said McCarthy. “We’re so thankful for Spc. Quintero, and for all our donors who make this mission possible.”

The blood center team needs those who are able to donate CCP, and all others are encouraged to schedule a regular blood donation to help with the continuing need for troops downrange and patients in military hospitals here at home. To find out if you qualify to donate CCP or for additional information, contact Erin Longacre at erin.n.longacre.civ@mail.mil, or call the blood center at (706) 787-3234 or (706) 787-1012.

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.