Many of us have heard that donating plasma can save lives, but what does this mean, am I eligible, and how do I do it?
- What is plasma?
Plasma is the largest component of your blood, making up about 55% of it. Plasma contains mostly enzymes, salt, and water, but it also has other important parts such as antibodies. Antibodies are the proteins that fight off unwanted diseases, bacteria, and viruses. Once you overcome a disease, your body learns how to fight it off – in case you contract it again – with these antibodies.
2. How does donating plasma differ from donating blood?
Donate plasma is just like donating blood, except you’re only taking the person’s plasma from their blood cells and returning everything else. Donating plasma tends to be a longer process than donating blood, averaging around an hour and a half to complete.
3. How is the plasma used?
Plasma with the COVID-19 antibodies can be infused with currently sick patient’s blood to help them recover and even avoid death. You are giving them the tools that you used to fight off your infection, and it really can save lives.
Plasma will also help researchers find a treatment or a vaccine to the virus. Somehow, the antibodies developed and learned how to fight off the virus, so researches can analyze your antibodies, see what they are doing, and use them to make experimental treatments and therapies.
4. Am I eligible to donate plasma?
First, you need to have the specific antibodies that fight off the COVID-19 virus, formally known as SARS-CoV2. If you test positive for the antibodies, then you are good to go.
Second, you must be in good health. Make sure that you aren’t experiencing any symptoms, even minor ones. Better to wait the extra few days or weeks until you are feeling healthy to donate.
Third, there are certain physical requirements you must meet in order to donate blood, such as an age requirement, being at least 17, and a weight requirement, at least 110 lbs.
Lastly, at the testing site, there is a screening process to make sure your blood is healthy and safe.
5. Where do I sign-up?
Here is a link to the New York Blood Center, a non-profit blood collection and distribution organization. They have many testing sites around New York City, including mobile ones, so check for the one that is closest to you.
If you would like to consult with a medical professional or if you need a COVID test to see if you are eligible to donate plasma, click the link below to schedule an appointment!