Plasma needed

Community non-profit blood center, Blood Assurance, is partnering with Rhea County Medical center to encourage the donation of convalescent plasma. These plasma donations from recovered COVID-19 donors are being used as an investigational treatment for hospitalized COVID-19 patients. As the demand for this treatment increases at Rhea Medical Center and across the Blood Assurance service area, Blood Assurance is in desperate need for more plasma donors.

“Blood Assurance is collecting, processing and sending the donated plasma to hospitals where it is given to patients,” said David Bixler, CEO at Rhea Medical Center.

“We are seeing a spike in demand for this potentially life-saving treatment from hospitals across the nation and right here in our communities,” said Dr. Elizabeth Culler, medical director at Blood Assurance. “We need donors who meet the requirements to give convalescent plasma for our patients in need.”

“At Rhea Medical Center we are excited to be partnering with Blood Assurance. The chance for our residents that have had the coronavirus to give back to our community is amazing,” said Dr. Mark Pollard, chief of staff at Rhea Medical Center. “I am hoping that large numbers of patients of the almost 700 people in our county that have tested positive will highly consider giving plasma for this wonderful life-saving cause. Until a vaccine and medications are available to fight this threat, plasma and the antibodies contained within will be the most effective treatment that we have.”

Blood Assurance is the sole supplier of blood products to Rhea Medical Center. To donate convalescent plasma for patients in need, donors must have been officially diagnosed with COVID-19, must pass all standard requirements to give plasma and must be symptom free for 14 days.

To see if you meet requirements to be a convalescent plasma donor or if you are a clinician interested in convalescent plasma, Blood Assurance urges you to visit www.bloodassurance.org/covidplasma. Blood Assurance offers information in Spanish as well. If you would like to speak to a Spanish representative regarding convalescent plasma, please call 423-752-8459.

If you believe you had COVID-19 but did not get tested, you may donate whole blood at Blood Assurance and receive an antibody test. Blood Assurance is currently testing all donations for COVID-19 antibodies. If you test positive for the antibodies, you could be a candidate for donating convalescent plasma.

To be eligible to donate blood, you must be at least 17-years-old (16-years-old with parental consent), weigh 110 pounds or more and be in good health. Donors are asked to drink plenty of fluids — avoiding caffeine — and eat a meal that is rich in iron prior to donating.