By Navy Petty Officer 3rd Class Jacob L. Greenberg
At Marine Corps Recruit Depot San Diego in California, some U.S. Marines who have tested positive for and recovered from COVID-19 are donating plasma in the hopes of helping others.
“The hope is that these Marines who have tested positive and recovered from COVID-19 will have developed antibodies,” said Ellyn Alcantara, a clinical nurse assigned to the Naval Medical Center San Diego (NMCSD)’s Blood Donor Center. “These antibodies could lead to developments in a treatment for COVID-19.”
Why are These Marines Donating COVID-19 Convalescent Plasma?
Convalescent COVID-19 plasma (or CCP) from recovered COVID-19-positive patients contains antibodies and might be able to help others recover from the illness caused by the novel coronavirus.
That’s why, in late May, the Department of Defense (DoD) launched a campaign to collect 8,000 units of plasma from patients who have recovered from COVID-19.
All of the Marines who volunteered to donate their COVID-19 convalescent plasma did so with the hope that their antibodies will help others.
“It makes me feel good to be a part of the solution to this pandemic,” said Marine Corps Pfc. Xavier Flores, a recent donor.
The Process for Donating COVID-19 Convalescent Plasma
Upon arriving at the blood donation center, Marines are given a medical health screening to determine their donor eligibility.
Once they are cleared to donate COVID-19 convalescent plasma, they are given a complete blood count and hematocrit test to ensure the proportion of red blood cells in the body is optimal for donation and would have no adverse effects on the donor.
“[Additionally,] a transfusion transmissible infection test will be performed on all donors as a part of their screening process,” said Navy Lt. Therica Reynolds, the officer in charge of the medical center’s Blood Donor Center. “We’re trying to maximize our plasma collection and do our part for patient care.”
Reynolds said apheresis — the plasma donation process, which is the same for donating COVID-19 convalescent plasma — takes about an hour from the beginning of the screening process to the end of the collection.
“A qualified donor is eligible to donate every 28 days, and one person can potentially donate four doses, or bags, of CCP per visit,” Reynolds said.
-This story originally appeared on defense.gov. It has been edited for USO.org.
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