BRADENTON, Fla. — Suncoast Blood Centers is encouraging COVID-19 survivors to donate convalescent plasma to treat patients who are hospitalized with the virus.
Suncoast Blood Centers serves 14 hospitals throughout the Tampa Bay region.
"We're hoping to see 50 donors a day for the convalescent plasma," said Joan Leonard, with SunCoast Blood Centers. "This time of the year, it's a gift that you can give without any expense. It takes less than an hour."
ABC Action News met a donor who has recovered from COVID-19. He said his only symptom was a severe headache and felt better in about 12 hours.
His wife also contracted the virus. She developed symptoms like fever, congestion, body aches and loss of taste.
The couple both donated convalescent plasma.
"From one plasma donation from a COVID-19 patient, we get 4 doses to send to the hospital so that couple alone is helping 8 others to hopefully leave the hospital sooner rather than later," said Leonard.
Local hospitals served by SunCoast Blood Centers have put out an urgent call for convalescent plasma to treat patients with life-threatening cases of COVID-19.
"They're using it quicker than it's coming into all the blood centers so we want to keep up with that to serve our community. We've had hospitals as far south as Charlotte County that have increased their usage in the last 4-5 days so almost doubling what we saw last week," said Leonard.
SunCoast Blood Centers said COVID-19 currently has no proven treatment, but it is possible that convalescent plasma may provide antibodies to fight the virus.
Individuals who have been diagnosed with COVID-19 may be eligible to donate 14-28 days after the complete resolution of their symptoms.
Leonard said donors may receive a $50 Amazon gift card if they successfully donate convalescent plasma.
Leonard said people must make an appointment to donate convalescent plasma. The ideal candidates are those who have tested positive for the virus and can provide a written diagnosis.
To determine if you are able to donate please call SunCoast at 941-993-8119, Monday – Friday 8 a.m. to 5 p.m., or email firstname.lastname@example.org.
For more information visit: suncoastblood.org.