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Badger Give Back Blood Drive aims to collect plasma from students who recovered from COVID-19

The plasma can help patients currently fighting COVID-19, and benefit the convalescent plasma program
Published: Oct. 26, 2020 at 6:35 PM CDT
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MADISON, Wis. (WMTV) - UW-Madison junior Elizabeth Kitslaar is doing what she can to give back and help others after she tested positive for coronavirus. Kitslaar plans on donating plasma that can help patients fight coronavirus through The Badgers Give Back Blood Drive.

The drive is headed up by UW-Madison sophomore Brody Andes. Students who have recovered from COVID-19 are encouraged to donate, and their plasma can help patients and benefit the COVID-19 convalescent plasma program in Madison.

According to Dr. William Hartman, principal investigator for COVID-19 clinical studies at UW Health, the plasma from people who have recovered from coronavirus can be a helpful tool in aiding patients currently battling the virus.

“Convalescent plasma has been a treatment for coronavirus since almost the beginning of the pandemic here in the United States,” Hartman said. “It’s the liquid part of blood, and people who recovered from the coronavirus, from COVID-19, they’ve already built up the antibodies that have defeated the virus, so those antibodies are still in that plasma. We’re able to take that plasma and give it to somebody who’s currently sick with COVID-19, with the hopes of those antibodies giving that patient an immune boost so they can defeat the virus as well.”

Hartman said that one student can help at least two or three patients with their convalescent plasma donation.

“Blood is a necessary resource in our hospitals, we could always use more blood,” he said. “This will kind of get at it in two ways – they’ll be able to extract the plasma from the blood, and they’ll be able to use the blood as well. The potential for each student to help several different patients is incredible.”

One of those students hoping to help is Kitslaar, who tested positive for coronavirus on Wednesday, Oct. 14, and has been in isolation.

“I was kind of in shock at first because no one super close to me has had the virus yet, and so it really just struck really close to home,” she said. “You realize it’s so real and anyone can get it at any time, anywhere, I still have no idea where I contracted the virus which is frustrating.”

Kitslaar said she and her roommates used precautions when they returned to campus, even creating a schedule to get tested regularly to ensure they didn’t have the virus. She said when she started developing symptoms, she knew she had it.

“My first symptom was body aches and muscle aches,” she said. “It was really bad, I had school, I could barely get out of bed.”

She said she also developed fatigue, headaches, and a cough, but considers herself lucky she didn’t get so sick she had to go to the hospital. Luckily, her roommates did not contract the virus.

Now, after isolating and recovering from her symptoms, Kitslaar is hoping to donate blood.

“I think it’s an amazing opportunity and I’m super excited to be able to donate my plasma and help others recover from the virus,” she said.

After everything she went through, Kitslaar sees a silver lining.

“Just help other people and give back to the community,” she said. “And for me I think another amazing part of this is being able to contribute to that research with the convalescent plasma and see the changes and the ways it’s helping people.”

The drive takes place Oct. 27-29 from 11 a.m. to 6 p.m. at The Nick, 797 W. Dayton St. in Madison. For information on how to make an appointment, click here and use code “Badgers.”

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