Red Cross appeals for convalescent plasma

collecting convalescent plasma from recovered Covid patients
Photo credit Getty images

Buffalo, N.Y. (WBEN) - As Covid-19 cases surge across the country, the American Red Cross has an emergency shortage of convalescent plasma, which has shown promise as a therapy in treating moderate to critically ill Covid patients.

"Right now, we're distributing convalescent plasma faster than the donations are coming in," said Jay Bonafede with the WNY Chapter of the Red Cross.

"Once you've made the appointment to donate convalescent plasma, you're going to be able to donate every 28 days. Each time they donate convalescent plasma, it's helping to save up to three patients.

Since April, thousands of Covid-19 survivors have given convalescent plasma, enabling the Red Cross to collect and distribute over 20,000 lifesaving convalescent plasma products nationwide, including more than 1,000 in New York State.

The Red Cross has had to deal with a number of cancelations during the pandemic with blood drives scheduled at schools and businesses and places that haven't been open. "We've seen the blood need increase as hospitals resume elective procedures that were temporarily paused. The demand for blood has increased 30% since April," said Bonafede.

Safety precautions are in place at all blood drives. Donors, staff and volunteers are screened before they enter a center. Temperatures are taken, everyone is wearing a mask and social distancing is followed. 

There's a special incentive for the month of August. Those who make a plasma or blood donation will receive a $5 Amazon gift card via email.

To schedule a PLASMA donation: click HERE.

To schedule a BLOOD donation: click HERE and enter your zip code for a blood drive near you.

They strongly encourage appointments over walk-ins.