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Logan Aguirre of Springfield, Missouri, donated convalescent plasma at Community Blood Center of the Ozarks in Springfield.

Convalescent plasma (CCP) is saving lives of people extremely sick and hospitalized with COVID-19, officials say.

Chris Pilgrim, media relations for Community Blood Center of the Ozarks, said he had recently heard of a COVID-19 patient that was given CCP and within hours was sitting in the chair watching television.

So, if you are a recovered COVID-19 individual, some good can come out of the experience by donating blood within approximately 90 days. Pilgrim said the experts aren’t exactly sure right now how long one has to donate blood, but there are definitely more antibodies the sooner one donates after recovery.

But there are some protocols to follow. A person recovering from COVID-19 must be 17 years or older and weigh at least 110 pounds. They can’t have donated any blood 56 days prior and be well and healthy.

The specialized equipment for Community Blood Center is located in Springdale or in Springfield, Missouri. Pilgrim said to call (417) 227-5006 to set up an appointment at either location. Donations take about an hour. Individuals also have to bring proof they were positive with COVID-19 and proof of recovery and 14 days past symptoms. Pilgrim said it could be February before any open appointments are available, but to call and ask.

Pilgrim said, “Convalescent plasma is the liquid part of blood that is collected from patients who have recovered from the novel coronavirus disease, COVID-19. Recovered patients develop antibodies in their blood that work against the virus. Antibodies are proteins that might help fight the infection. To date, hundreds of plasma treatments have been administered in Ozarks area hospitals, with many positive reports of its effectiveness. Many more donations are needed to help build a reliable stockpile of CCP to help in the future.”

“Our area hospitals are seeing the tremendous healing effects of convalescent plasma transfusions, and the treatment has become a key weapon in fighting off coronavirus,” CBCO executive director Anthony Roberts said. “But area usage is higher now than the amounts we are able to provide. There are hundreds of now healthy individuals who have recovered from coronavirus. Those people have a unique calling right now. Their plasma can have a positive effect on the most severely ill patients.”

Donating convalescent plasma is a simple procedure, as Suzanne Stringer can attest. She, along with her husband, Dr. Kenton Stringer, have donated their antibody rich plasma multiple times since recovering from COVID-19.

“I had never given plasma before but knew that donating plasma was a way that people could make a difference in a time where we don't have an answer yet,” she said. “It meant even more when I found out the plasma, when given to CBCO, was staying in the area. It’s easy and painless.”

One person’s convalescent plasma donation can help two or three people. Pilgrim said the evidence is overwhelming that it is working very well. “We have ramped up the ability to accept donations. Hospital usage is up 300%. It’s our job to provide what hospitals need, so we need help from the public.”

Pilgrim also wanted to remind the public that there are still post-holiday needs for blood donations. “It’s a constant challenge to have the types of blood on hand for our area hospitals. So please take advantage of area of blood drives.”

Pilgrim concluded by saying, “On behalf of local hospital patients, CBCO thanks blood donors from across the region for giving life to your community.”

Visit cbco.org for additional information on convalescent plasma or area blood drives.

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