Recovered coronavirus patients sought for plasma to aid in battle against virus

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Health care workers conduct a private drive-thru COVID-19 testing site operated by Hemet Global Medical Center in April. Valley News/Shane Gibson photo

RIVERSIDE (CNS) – Inland Empire residents who have recovered from the novel coronavirus are being asked to consider making blood donations that clinicians can use to develop enhanced screening methods, and possibly vaccines.

San Bernardino-based LifeStream Blood Bank, which has donation centers in Riverside, La Quinta, Murrieta and Rancho Mirage, is in the process of collecting so-called “convalescent plasma,” and recovered COVID-19 patients are the only ones who have it, said the organization’s chief medical officer, Joe Chaffin.

“Though convalescent plasma has not been fully proven to be effective in patients with COVID-19, there are encouraging signs from early studies,” Chaffin said. “By collecting this product, LifeStream is proud to help hospitals develop better understanding of the use of convalescent plasma for patients in desperate need.”

Patients who have beat the virus and have exhibited no symptoms for at least 14 days are specifically wanted.

The U.S. Food & Drug Administration has established protocols for the collections, according to LifeStream spokesman Don Escalante.

“Individuals who have recovered from COVID-19 may have immune-boosting antibodies in their plasma,” he said.

In addition to potential treatment of critically ill patients, the FDA and other health care entities are researching recovery plasma as a means of improving screening technologies.

Donors will be pre-screened to determine eligibility, according to Escalante.

Those interested in making a donation were encouraged to visit LStream.org/covidplasma to set up an appointment, or call 909-386-6837.