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Florida blood bank collecting plasma to help fight coronavirus

OneBlood will be collecting plasma from recovered coronavirus patients to use for critical cases
James Kershaw donates blood at a temporary blood bank set up in a church's fellowship hall Tuesday, March 24, 2020, in Tempe, Ariz. Schools and businesses that typically host blood drives are temporarily closed due to precautionary measures in place to reduce the spread of the COVID-19 coronavirus leading to extremely low levels of blood availability throughout the state. (AP Photo/Matt York)
James Kershaw donates blood at a temporary blood bank set up in a church's fellowship hall Tuesday, March 24, 2020, in Tempe, Ariz. Schools and businesses that typically host blood drives are temporarily closed due to precautionary measures in place to reduce the spread of the COVID-19 coronavirus leading to extremely low levels of blood availability throughout the state. (AP Photo/Matt York) [ MATT YORK | AP ]
Published Mar. 31, 2020

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OneBlood, a blood bank that operates throughout Florida, has plans to collect plasma from recovered coronavirus patients to use on critical coronavirus patients.

The organization got emergency FDA approval to begin collecting convalescent plasma, which carries antibodies from people who have already recovered from the virus that may help boost the immune system of other patients, said Susan Forbes, the senior vice president of corporate communications and public relations.

No plasma has been collected yet, but the organization is working with the Florida Department of Health to identify potential donors.

“Because there is no proven treatment for coronavirus the FDA is approving use of this,” Forbes said.

She said it’s not known whether it will help critical patients, but there is some evidence that it may aid in their recovery.

The FDA approved the move on March 24, and since then OneBlood has been working to identify patients and set up the needed procedures. Along with standard donor guidelines, people donating the convalescent plasma need to go through additional checks, like showing they did test positive for coronavirus and have had no symptoms 14 days before donation.

Only a blood bank in New York has done similar work with plasma, she said.

Using plasma from recovered patients to help others dates back 120 years and has been used for polio, measles and other diseases, Forbes said. She hopes soon they will be able to identify patients and begin gathering plasma, because hospitals are eager to use the treatment.

“We’re moving very quickly, it’s an active thing,” she said.

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