The Nottingham Blood and Donor Centre entrance

NHS Blood and Transplant is appealing for more seriously ill coronavirus survivors to donate plasma.

Their plasma contains antibodies that are believed to help other sufferers combat the virus.

Blood plasma is a yellowish liquid which resides in the blood and makes up about half of its volume. This yellow liquid is extracted from the blood and then collected. This “convalescent plasma” is the antibody-rich plasma of someone who has recovered from a virus, in this case, COVID-19.

“THE IMPACT IT COULD HAVE ON SOMEONE’S LIFE IS POTENTIALLY HUGe”

Peter Golby, BLOOD DONor

The donations are used for blood plasma transfusions which are most effective to those with weak immune systems or in the early stages of the illness. The units collected can also be sent for tests and used in studies and trials to help researchers understand more about how the virus can be beaten.

Two hundred and thirty-five hospitals have taken part in the trial so far with just over 50,000 units of plasma being collected from COVID-19 survivors. This means more than 800 people can receive blood transfusions a week in the UK (January 2021).

Peter Golby whilst donating blood plasma

“It wasn’t a hard thing to do, just a small act of kindness, but the impact it could have on someone’s life is potentially huge. I know when I had COVID that it’s a rough virus so if I can aid and help anyone in not having it as bad, I will,” says plasma donor, Peter Golby.

 

Volunteers are being urged to register their interest on the NHS Blood and Transplant website. However, not everyone is eligible. Donors must be over the age of 17, have had coronavirus and have a large volume of blood so the donation is safe. This means there are minimum height and weight guidelines which are different for men and women.

  • Women must be over 5ft 5ins (165cm) and 12st 2lbs (77kg).
  • Men must be over 5ft 9ins (175cm) and 13st 7lbs (85.5kg).

Volunteers are asked to give a blood sample to test for high levels of antibodies before donating plasma. If the levels are too low they will be turned away as it would not be safe to give it to patients and could potentially make the infection worse.

So far the COVID-19 plasma programme has proved useful to some patients but there is more research going ahead as to who will benefit from the donations.