NHS Blood and Transplant (NHSBT) needs more people from the South East who were in hospital with COVID-19 to donate blood plasma. Donors who received hospital treatment for coronavirus are more likely to have the high level of antibodies needed for convalescent plasma, which could help others in hospital struggling to develop their own immune response to the virus.
People of all levels of illness can donate – including people with minor symptoms – but there is a special need for the most seriously ill people to donate as new analysis shows generally they have the highest antibody levels.
So far, in the South East, offers to donate from people who needed hospital care include:
- 93 offers from people who live near Southampton Donor Centre
- 56 offers from people who live near Oxford Donor Centre
- 100 offers from people who live near the Reading Donor Centre.
- 97 offers from people who live near the Ashford Donor Centre
- New donor centres are also opening in Woking and Arundel.
Many more offers to donate have been taken from people who had COVID but did not need hospital care.
Mark Parbery, 54, from Andover, is one of the top convalescent plasma donors in the south east of England, with 12 donations so far. He needed hospital care after falling seriously ill during April, at the same time as the Prime Minister. During the early stages he was constantly passing out due to a high temperature.
The vehicle technician spent a night in Basingstoke and North Hampshire Hospital and was discharged back home. “I was probably worse a few days later at home though, when I had difficulty breathing,” said Mark. “I should have gone back to hospital but I was worried I would never come back out. I couldn’t even walk two steps. I reckon I was breathing 10% of normal.”
Mark registered to donate plasma on the NHSBT website and has now become a regular at Southampton Donor Centre. “I felt if I could help somebody else, it’s got to be worth it. It feels good to donate and it feels safe. The staff are really good at making you feel welcome.”
NHSBT is taking donations for the plasma arms of the RECOVERY and REMAP-CAP trials. The trials will determine whether the antibody-rich blood plasma found in people who’ve had coronavirus could be an effective treatment for general use in the NHS.
Professor David Roberts, NHSBT associate medical director for blood donation, said: “Our analysis shows people who had hospital care make our best donors. They have the highest antibody levels and their antibodies stay higher for longer. Your body quickly replaces the donated plasma and antibodies and it does not affect antibody levels in the long term.
“We are grateful to people who have been willing to donate their plasma. Especially to those who were in hospital and will have had a difficult time this year. By donating, they could be helping to save lives.” If you’ve had confirmed coronavirus or the symptoms, you can volunteer today to donate plasma at www.nhsbt.nhs.uk or simply search online for ‘donate plasma’.