MILITARY MATTERS: Army wants donations COVID-19 convalescent plasma

Updated: Jul. 11, 2020 at 2:07 AM EDT
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FORT BENNING, Ga. (WTVM) - Officials at a medical facility on Fort Benning recently did a call out, saying the need for COVID-19 convalescent plasma is “huge.”

Martin Army Community Hospital on Fort Benning is making a big push for people to help in the battle against the coronavirus by donating COVID-19 convalescent plasma at the Sullivan Memorial Blood Center on Sand Hill. Infantry Basic Officer Course student, 2nd Lt. Sam Zivot, was the first to donate the plasma there. That portion of blood has shown promise to treat patients who have the deadly virus. The donor would need to be someone who’s fully recovered from COVID-19.

“From that exposure, they produce antibodies found in plasma, and is beneficial to treat those who are severely ill,” said COL Jason Corley, Army Blood Program Director based in Texas. “Within the Department of Defense, we’ve been directed to collect up to 8 to 10,000 units of COVID convalescent plasms by the end of September.”

Some of that would be used for service members that are deployed. The units of plasma are already being used at military hospitals around the nation to treat those who have more severe cases of coronavirus.

“Basically, this is a way to increase the medical readiness of the force and stand ready to treat in case the pandemic continues to spread,” said Corley.

It works just like a blood donation. But again, donors wanting to give COVID-19 convalescent plasma would need to have previously tested positive for the virus and be symptom free for at least 14 days.

“The device for aphoresus is right behind me. It’s the same device we’d normally use even if it wasn’t for COVID convalescent plasma production. So, the procedure is absolutely the same. There is no greater impact to the donor. There’s no reason to be intimidated,”Corley said.

They invite anyone to donate, but it’s usually soldiers, defense employees, civilian contractors, and family members who can.

“In order to donate to the Armed Services Blood Program, you do have to have a way to access the military installation or federal property,” Corley added.

It’s worth a trip like Zivot made. He calls the virus “real and very unpleasant.”

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