Mercy Health Systems in Rogers and Fort Smith are asking for plasma donations from former patients who have recovered from COVID-19. The U.S. Food and Drug Administration has said patients who have recovered could help others by donating plasma, which is thought to contain antibodies from the illness and could help others fighting the virus.
Mercy said the Arkansas Blood Institute in Fort Smith and Community Blood Center of the Ozarks in Northwest Arkansas are urging recovered COVID-19 patients to register. Donors are eligible if they have been diagnosed with COVID-19 and symptom-free for 14 days prior to donation. If patients have received convalescent plasma or a blood donation as part of their treatment, they must wait three months to donate their own convalescent plasma.
“Time is of the essence in the fight against COVID-19,” Dr. John Armitage, president and CEO of Arkansas Blood Institute, said in a statement. “Even a brief delay in transfusing convalescent plasma may cost someone their life or prolong the severe symptoms of this virus. We are urging anyone who has recovered from COVID-19, or who has tested positive for the antibodies, to take the time to donate convalescent plasma as soon as possible so that our fellow Arkansans suffering the worst symptoms of the coronavirus can be treated swiftly and get on the road to recovery.”
Mercy said it has streamlined the donor process by using its MyMercy app and online patient portal. Mercy is sending a message to patients, asking those who tested positive if they’re willing to learn more about giving plasma.
“We’re still learning about COVID antibodies,” JoAnne Levy, vice president of Mercy Research, said in a statement. “Our goal is to contact potential donors and receive convalescent plasma when antibody levels may possibly be at their highest. That way, the donated plasma may be the most effective in helping others. And, as we learn more, we’ll adapt our approaches.”
Mercy said a single plasma donation can provide therapeutic plasma for up to four seriously ill patients.
“Patients will be able to hit a button that indicates they’re interested,” said Laura Canter, manager of non-oncology research for Mercy. “Then we can reach out to them accordingly.”
Mercy patients who do not have a MyMercy account can contact the healthcare provider online for more information.
In Fort Smith patients who received a positive COVID-19 test from a health care provider other than Mercy can reach out directly to the Arkansas Blood Institute by calling 888-308-3924.
In Northwest Arkansas, patients can contact the Community Blood Center of the Ozarks at 417-227-5324.