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St. Paul, MN – When COVID-19 was at its peak earlier this year, thousands of New Yorkers donated convalescent plasma and many of the units were transfused here in Minnesota. Now, the time has come for Minnesotans to pay it forward and help patients around the country. As COVID-19 spreads at historic rates, Memorial Blood Centers is shipping convalescent plasma to the hardest hit states, including Florida, Texas, Tennessee, Mississippi, Missouri, and California. Memorial Blood Centers’ efforts are part of a federal initiative with the Department of Health and Human Services to increase the amount of convalescent plasma available to treat patients nationwide.

Convalescent plasma treatment uses plasma from an eligible blood donor who has recovered and is symptom free for at least 2 weeks. The plasma contains antibodies to help clear the virus more rapidly, and is intended to decrease the likelihood of need for an ICU bed or ventilator. Controlled studies around the world are beginning to show benefit if the plasma is administered early in the course of infection, typically in the first week to 10 days, before the patient has had a chance to produce their own antibodies. Memorial Blood Centers will confirm donor eligibility and collect by plasmapheresis, an instrument that returns all of the red cells back to the donor, and allows donors to give multiple donations. In addition, each donation collects enough to treat several patients. Memorial Blood Centers has collected over 500 of these special units to date. In order to keep up with the local and national demand for this life-saving resource, Memorial Blood Centers will have to collect many more units of convalescent plasma units per month. The Biomedical Advanced Research and Development Authority (BARDA) is a U.S. Department of Health and Human Services office responsible for the procurement and development of medical countermeasures. Memorial Blood Centers is participating in BARDA’s COVID-19 convalescent plasma (CCP) program which is focused on providing 200,000 products over the next several months to fulfill current demand, as well as build an inventory to be used if there is a surge in the fall.

“We encourage all individuals eligible to donate who have had at least moderate symptoms from a confirmed case of COVID to donate plasma. As studies show apparent benefit, it is one of the easiest and safest potential interventions to decrease the severity of the illness.” said Jed B. Gorlin, MD, MBA and Vice President of Memorial Blood Centers. “Until a vaccine arrives, transfusion of convalescent plasma is a ‘first-choice therapy’ for this deadly disease. If you are eligible, please sign up on our website to donate so we can help treat as many patients as possible. By scheduling an appointment we can minimize your wait and maintain safe social distancing.”

Interested donors can sign up at MBC.org/cpdonor.

In addition to providing this plasma to most of the major medical centers in our area, Memorial Blood Centers plans to distribute any additional resources to regions with highest need.

The need for blood and platelet donations continues during the COVID-19 pandemic. If you are healthy and well, please make an appointment to donate with Memorial Blood Centers by visiting MBC.ORG/donate-blood.

About Memorial Blood Centers

Memorial Blood Centers (MBC) has been saving lives since 1948 as an independent nonprofit. MBC relies on the local community to donate blood to help ensure a safe and stable blood supply is available to area hospitals and other partners throughout the country. With operations in Minnesota and Wisconsin, MBC is a division of New York Blood Centers Enterprises (NYBCe), serving communities across the country. For more information, call 1-888-GIVE-BLD (1-888-448-3253) or visit MBC.ORG. Connect with us on FacebookTwitterInstagram, and LinkedIn.