FAQ: Frequently asked questions
I was sick with all the symptoms of COVID-19 coronavirus, but I was never tested. Can I donate plasma?
Yes, as of May 2020, this is possible. You will need a blood draw sample for a laboratory test. The test must detect antibodies in your blood that specifically target COVID-19.
Many COVID-19 antibody tests are entering the market. Not all tests have proven accuracy. The Blood Bank Collection centers in Colorado have a list of antibody tests that will be accepted in order for you to donate plasma. National Jewish Health offers a test that is approved by Vitalant Blood Centers. This test at National Jewish Health requires an appointment be made online.
What is plasma and why is it collected?
Plasma is the clear liquid portion of blood that remains after blood cells, platelets, and other cellular components are removed. It contains water, salts, antibodies, and other proteins. Plasma is collected to produce therapies to treat people with many types of disorders, including immunodeficiency, hemophilia, and trauma such as burns or shock.
Are there any risks to my health after donating plasma?
People donate plasma every day. It is done at plasma and blood donation centers all around the country by trained medical teams in sterile environments.
Donating plasma is a safe process. Most healthy adults can donate blood and plasma with no side effects. Some people may have minor side effects like dehydration, fatigue or dizziness. Donors are screened prior to donating to make sure they are good candidates.
Can I direct my plasma donation to a specific person in need, such as a friend or family member?
That is a very heartwarming request! Unfortunately, this is not nearly as straightforward as it seems. Donor plasma must be screened by the standard procedures for blood products, such as blood type, which may not match the intended recipient. Furthermore, at this time there is a strong demand for convalescent plasma in Colorado's hospitals. The medical teams and blood banks have the difficult responsibility of deciding which patient gets the next available convalescent plasma product. Think of this like a wait list for receiving an organ transplant. Another way to think about this is, when you donate your plasma, it helps everyone and moves your loved one up the recipient list. When more donor plasma becomes available, directed donation to a specific recipient may be considered.
"This is probably the least heroic way possible to be a hero. It doesn't take much to make a big, big impact."
- COVID-19 convalescent plasma donor, interviewed on the Today Show, April 6, 2020.