We Are Blood in need of convalescent plasma to keep up with hospital demand

Coronavirus

AUSTIN (KXAN) — After a spike in COVID-19 hospitalizations in the Austin and Travis County area, We Are Blood said it’s in desperate need of convalescent plasma, which is used to treat COVID-19 patients.

Convalescent plasma comes from people who have recovered from the coronavirus. Antibodies can be found in their plasma and can be transfused to current COVID-19 patients, We Are Blood explained.

Right now, WRB is the sole provider to more than 40 hospitals and medical facilities in Central Texas, the organization said, and hospitals’ demand for the plasma has increased.

WRB has seen a steady increase in requests for the plasma since the Thanksgiving holidays. The aftermath of Christmas and New Year’s gatherings are causing the demand to skyrocket, the organization said.

“During the spike in Central Texas hospitalizations experienced in July, we were sending 20-25 units of convalescent plasma a day to local hospitals,” said Nick Canedo, VP of Communications for We Are Blood, said in a press release. “Saturday alone we sent 84 units to local patients. At that pace, we could run out of life-saving convalescent plasma in a matter of days.”

Since April, WRB has provided more than 3,000 units to Central Texas hospitals.

The plea for blood and plasma comes at a time when Austin public health leaders are convinced the COVID-19 surge ahead will be worse than the summer.

“We’re going to exceed capacity,” said Dr. Mark Escott, Austin-Travis County Interim Health Authority. “The question is how much are we going to exceed capacity.”

Austin’s three local hospital systems say their combined hospital beds are 79% occupied, and the ICU beds are 88% full.

How to donate convalescent plasma

Requirements to donate:

  • Need to have a lab-tested diagnosis of COVID-19 or a positive antibody result
  • Been without symptoms for at least 14 days
  • Meet all other blood donation criteria

You can submit a qualification form online. You will then be contacted to set up an appointment.

Alternatively, there is a convalescent plasma and blood drive at the St. David’s HealthCare Emergency Center in Cedar Park on Tuesday and Wednesday. To donate convalescent plasma, you must submit a questionnaire online. Blood donors can schedule as normal online.

All donations are tested for COVID-19 antibodies, WRB said. The antibody test is given to donors free of charge, and results are available online within one week.

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