Auburn Villager

East Alabama Medical Center is asking those in the community who have recovered from Covid-19 to donate blood plasma, a potentially critical treatment for patients currently infected and hospitalized. 

EAMC began treating patients with blood plasma, or convalescent plasma, in mid-May and has increased its use over the past month, although some plasma units had to be  ordered because none were available locally. 

"Many of our patients are very sick and some at risk of dying," said Dr. Ricardo Maldonado, infectious disease specialist at EAMC. "No treatment available is 100 percent effective, and some patients will not respond to different therapies we have available. 

"In that setting, we welcome a safe and easy treatment that could potentially help our patients. The treatment is likely to help, and unlikely to harm. Therefore, it is an attractive treatment option we would love to keep offering to our patients."

If residents have had a positive test, whether for Covid-19 or antibodies, they can be scheduled for a plasma donation. A positive Covid-19 test does not mean a person will produce antibodies, although any plasma donated will be used. Donors must also be symptom-free for 14 days and fully recovered prior to donating plasma or whole blood. 

For those who have not tested positive for Covid-19, but think they may have been infected at some point, they can donate whole blood at a LifeSouth Blood Center or mobile bus. LifeSouth will conduct a free antibody test on the collected blood. 

A person can donate plasma after getting a positive antibody test after seven days of their whole blood donation. 

Appointments are recommended for whole blood donors, although walk-ins are accepted. You can make an appointment at lifesouth.org or by calling 334-705-0884. 

"The only way our local hospitals get this plasma for patients is through us," said Carmilla Tindal, donor recruiter for LifeSouth, in an email. "The hospitals out of our region that are supplied by the Red Cross are even trying to get plasma from us."

LifeSouth will have a number of mobile blood drives over the coming weeks, including at: 

  Auburn United Methodist Church, 9 a.m. to 2 p.m., on July 26. 

Walmart on South College Street, noon to 6 p.m., on July 27. 

Old Navy in Tiger Town, from noon to 5 p.m. on Friday, and from noon to 6 p.m., on July 31. 

Kroger on North Dean Road, 11 a.m. to 5 p.m., on Aug. 4. 

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