Plasma Used to Help Iowa COVID-19 Patients May Run Out in Two Weeks

DES MOINES, Iowa — Each new day seems to smash Iowa’s previous record of daily positive COVID-19 cases. “It is a scary place to be,” said Danielle West, LifeServe Blood Center’s director of marketing and public relations.

With COVID-19 patients in need of care, West says convalescent plasma donations from Iowans who have recovered from the virus are proving to be vital. “This is really the only treatment option that a lot of our physicians are trying and seeing success with. Otherwise, there’s not much they can do for people battling COVID,” said West.

The need for help is growing so fast that the current levels of convalescent plasma are scarce. West said, “Currently, the way we are running, we are going to run out by December 1.”

Susan Kasperbauer had COVID-19 and told Iowans during the governor’s press conference Tuesday that her life may have been saved by a donation. “I remember telling my nurse that I felt so much better afterwards. It was like my body woke up again after ten days of being in pain,” said Kasperbauer.

With over 2,000 deaths as of Tuesday, there are 110,000 Iowans who have recovered from COVID-19. That’s enough to reach capacity at Kinnick Stadium, Hilton Coliseum, the UNI-Dome and the Knapp Center combined. There may not be a cure, but there could be plenty of help. “We only had a little over 500 donors donate convalescent plasma with us, so we know there are a lot of people out there eligible that could donate this lifesaving product,” West said.

In extremely rare cases, 5% to 10% of women who have given birth may carry a protein called HLA that prohibits them from donating convalescent plasma. West said, “It does not impact them at all. They may never know they have it. It is really just when it gets transfused to a patient where it might create a reaction.”

COVID-19-recovered Iowans don’t have to wait long to be a hero. “From their last symptom we want them to wait 14 days before they can come in and donate,” said West.

LifeServe Blood Center encourages Iowans like Kasperbauer, who returned the favor by donating, to call ahead or make an appointment online. “A person that I don’t even know took time out of their life to donate plasma and help save my life,” Kasperbauer said. West added, “We can collect these on a mobile or at a donor center. We can come to them, whatever is most convenient.”

As the world waits on a vaccine, LifeServe needs survivors who may already have a piece to the puzzle inside of them to donate. “One donation can truly help save the life of four different people that are fighting COVID right now,” said West.

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