Convalescent plasma donors needed as demand reaches new heights

Some area hospitals are experiencing plasma shortages as COVID cases climb in Wisconsin.
Published: Nov. 16, 2020 at 10:14 PM CST
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MADISON, Wis. (WMTV) -The demand is growing for convalescent plasma in the badger state, and health officials are worried the plasma demand will outweigh the supply.

“We like to have all the tools in our toolbox to use for patients when they come in to the hospital.” Amy Franta, SSM Health regional chief officer said.

Convalescent plasma is a covid recovery treatment that’s running thin.

“Patients, as a consequence of this shortage, won’t be able to receive that as part of their therapy,” Franta said.

Picture the plasma like an army of antibodies from a recovered covid patient helping a sick patient battle the virus.

“Plasma donations for CCP can only be donated by those who have previously had covid-19,” Franta said.

She said SSM Health is seeing a shortage from their blood vendor and as covid cases increase, so does demand.

“I think all of our health systems are worried in terms of the covid volumes and the effect it will have on our patients, staff and providers,” Franta said.

UW-Health said at the moment, they have enough convalescent plasma to cover their current needs.

“We’re managing as well as anyone can expect,” William Hartman, UW-Health principal investigator of covid-19 clinical trials said.

At the end of October, UW-Madison students held a blood drive to benefit patients in need of convalescent plasma. Hartman said this helped increase their supply.

Taking a look at the total positive cases in Wisconsin, the badger state has a potential donor pool of over 300,000.

“Since you don' t need all those antibodies right now because you fought off the virus, someone else can use those,” Hartman said.

He said it’s an effort to turn a positive, into a positive.

“We’re asking it to find it in your heart to donate your plasma to make use of it and make sick people better,” he said.

The Red Cross is seeing the demand first-hand. The spokesperson said the organization has delivered a record number of COVID plasma products to hospitals during the pandemic.

If you want to help, contact your local blood center to make an appointment to donate plasma.

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