NASHVILLE, Tenn. (WKRN) – As more and more COVID-19 patients are admitted to hospitals around the country, there is a growing need for plasma that can be used to help them recover. 

Blood Assurance paused these specific operations in April after a decrease in cases and hospitalizations. Now, they have to resume voluntary COVID-19 antibody testing and collecting plasma to help relieve area hospitals who are at capacity.

The blood center is the only organization in the region to do so. 

“The benefit is the awareness that on the other end of that gift, you’re helping save someone’s life,” said Dr. Ted Kieffer, Medical Director for Blood Assurance. “I’ve worked in hospital systems; I’ve seen children come in who have leukemia who are pale, they get a blood transfusion and they leave pink. It’s one of those changing procedures for them.”

Those who have recently recovered from COVID-19 have a high antibody count, which helps patients fighting COVID recover and treat complications from the virus, including blood clots. 

“It’s important to have convalescent plasma from your local region,” said Dr. Kieffer. “There are different strains of COVID circulating everywhere, so individuals that have had COVID-19 within your region are going to have similar strains they have been exposed to. So, they will have antibodies against the strains that are going to help you the most.”

The pandemic has impacted their means of collecting blood on a daily basis.

“It’s pretty bad; this is the worst I’ve ever seen it in my professional career,” said Dr. Kieffer.  “We are operating on a one-day supply of blood, so one day means we have enough to service our hospitals for that day. Not collecting or bringing in donors then unfortunately, hospitals will be short on blood and not be able to treat their patients.” 

If you’d like to donate, you have to be symptom free for at least 14 days and can donate up to six months after recovering from the virus.

Donors can schedule an appointment online by clicking here, by calling 800-962-0628, or by texting BAGIVE to 999777. Walk-ins aren’t encouraged, but will be accepted.

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, avoid caffeine and eat a meal that is rich in iron prior to donating.