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Recovered COVID-19 patients asked to consider donating their plasma

Mayo Clinic Health System doctors are encouraging people who have recovered from COVID-19 to consider donating plasma, as doctors are seeing success helping others fight the disease with convalescent plasma therapy.

Though the therapy is still being studied, it has produced significant benefits thus far, said Dr. Mohammed Yousufuddin with internal medicine for Mayo Clinic Health System in Austin. The plasma contains antibodies that have fought off the disease. 

He said as the demand goes up for convalescent plasma — which is the blood from people who have recovered from COVID-19 — the challenge rises for donor recruitment. He said doctors are discussing the idea with area COVID-19 patients in the area who are being discharged from the hospital in hopes they will help others fight the disease as well in the future.

People are preferred to donate about two months after they have recovered from the disease and should be symptom-free for at least 14 days. Donors who were symptomatic are recommended over those who were asymptomatic, and all donors must meet regular blood donor criteria.

Yousufuddin said for patients to receive the convalescent plasma therapy, they must be short of breath, require supplemental oxygen, have a respiration rate over 30, have a chest X-ray showing evidence of bilateral pneumonia and have tested positive for COVID-19. If the provider feels the patient is going to get worse based on clinical findings, he or she meets the eligibility for a transfusion.

Dr. Deepi Goyal, regional chair of clinical practice for southeast Minnesota for Mayo Clinic Health System, said Mayo hospitals have been successfully treating COVID-19 patients with the therapy in its hospitals and it is increasingly important that people donate.

People interested in donating plasma can visit https://www.thefightisinus.org/en-us#home or https://www.mayoclinic.org/blood-donor-program/minnesota for more information.

Goyal said he and Mayo Clinic Health System leaders are watching COVID-19 case numbers closely within the state and region and have been working closely with employers at some particular hotspots to make sure employees can get appropriately tested and know when they can safely return to work.

He said Mayo leaders are also comfortable with Mayo’s hospital bed capacity looking four weeks out.

“We’re ready to respond as needed to make sure patients get the care they deserve,” he said.

He noted at the hospital in Austin, there are 12 intensive care unit beds, but most of the time only six to eight of those beds are being occupied.

As Minnesota prepares to ease more restrictions next week, he asked people to maintain some of the safety precautions such as using masks and abiding by social distancing.