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What is convalescent plasma?

A hand reaches toward a bag of plasma.

If you have recovered from COVID-19, your blood may have what it takes to help others who are ill with the coronavirus.

It's called convalescent plasma. Plasma is the liquid part of your blood that remains after red and white blood cells and platelets are removed. It contains antibodies that help you fight off infections. Those antibodies helped you recover from the coronavirus when you were ill. And now, they may be helpful to others who are sick with COVID-19.

According to the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA), there is some evidence that suggests convalescent plasma with high levels of antibodies may have helped certain patients who were seriously ill with the virus. Specifically, that was seen when the plasma was given within 72 hours of diagnosis to patients under 80 years old who were not on a respirator. The treatment is still experimental, and more rigorous studies are needed. But it's generally considered safe.

That's why the FDA and the American Red Cross are asking people who have recovered from COVID-19 to step up and donate their plasma.

Donating your plasma is similar to giving blood. It just takes a little longer. During a plasma donation, blood is taken from your arm and sent through a machine. It separates out the plasma for donation and then returns your red blood cells and platelets back to you.

You may be able to donate convalescent plasma if:

  • You were diagnosed with COVID-19.
  • You have been fully recovered for at least two weeks.
  • You are eligible to donate blood.

Contact the Red Cross or your local blood center to learn how to donate your plasma.

Reviewed 10/19/2020

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