“I had COVID-19, my plasma may help people who are fighting the virus right now”

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STERLING, Va. (WDVM) — According to the CDC, between December 27 and January 2, over 2.6 million people were tested for the coronavirus. Over 300,000 of them tested positive. That means over 300,000 people may have coronavirus antibodies in their blood. If donated, their convalescent plasma could save the life of someone who’s battling the virus right now.

I had the coronavirus in November. Luckily, I had a mild case and I returned to work after 14 days of isolation. On Tuesday, I visited the Inova Health System’s Blood Donor Center to donate my plasma. If you’ve recovered from the coronavirus like me, and you’ve been symptom-free for more than 14 days, you can do the same.

“Not only do you have to find the convalescent plasma donor to donate, you also have to find the one that has the right blood type for the patient,” said Senior Director of Inova Blood Services Terri Craddock. Once infused into an extremely sick patient, Craddock says the antibodies will work as a neutralizer. “And hopefully it slows their course of infection and enhances their recovery.”

A plasma donation is a little different from your run-of-the-mill whole blood donation. You’ll need to shell out between 30 to 90 minutes, depending on your height, weight, gender, and iron level. The blood will be tested for a series of things, including blood type and coronavirus antibodies before it’s used.

“We hook you up to a machine and we pull out your whole blood, we pull out your plasma and give you your red blood cells and platelets back,” said Craddock. You might get cold when they reenter your veins. Inova is fully stocked on warmed blankets, which I took full advantage of.

Even if you haven’t had the coronavirus, you can still help the Inova Health System. Craddock says it’s facing a blood shortage.

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