Published on May 01, 2020

COVID-19 Recovered Team Member Donates Plasma

For one Owensboro Health team member, testing positive for COVID-19 presented an opportunity to help others. Since studies have shown that antibodies in the plasma of a recovered COVID-19 patient can help treat others with more severe cases of the virus, she made the decision to donate.

The nurse, who asked not to be identified, had an intermittent fever, a headache and a sore throat. She hoped it was strep and called urgent care to confirm, but they sent her through the COVID-19 screening process instead. She wasn’t surprised when her COVID-19 test came back positive.

“I’ve had the flu,” she said. “For me, it wasn’t as bad as that. That’s what makes this virus so bizarre.” Other people she knows who have tested positive have had symptoms ranging from losing their sense of taste and smell, to being very ill with high fevers.

It took this team member about 10 days to feel well, and that’s when she decided she wanted to donate plasma. She called the Western Kentucky Regional Blood Bank to find out how to proceed. All women who have been pregnant must have a human leukocyte antigen (HLA) test done before they can donate. The simple blood test is used to screen for the presence of antibodies that might target the donated plasma. She was also required to get a second COVID-19 test – covered by the blood bank – to confirm that she no longer had the virus. After both tests came back negative, and a 14-day wait, she was ready to proceed.

Last Thursday she made her first plasma donation at the blood bank. “It was a great experience,” she said. “The staff made it great.”

The process took about 30 minutes and is very similar to giving blood, she said. Instead of your blood being collected in a bag, you’re connected to a machine that separates the plasma from red blood cells, which are returned to your body.

This is an important detail, because she was previously unable to give blood due to a bleeding disorder. With no loss of red blood cells, a plasma donation was still possible.

She encourages all recovered COVID-19 patients to donate if possible. “You’re giving to your community,” she said. “It’s unfortunate that you had it but now you get to give back.”

About Owensboro Health

Owensboro Health is a nonprofit health system with a mission to heal the sick and to improve the health of the communities it serves in Kentucky and Indiana. The system includes Owensboro Health Regional Hospital, nationally recognized for design, architecture and engineering; Owensboro Health Muhlenberg Community Hospital; Owensboro Health Twin Lakes Medical Center; the Owensboro Health Medical Group comprised of over 200 providers at more than 20 locations; three outpatient Healthplex facilities, a certified medical fitness facility, the Healthpark; a surgical weight loss center and program, and the Mitchell Memorial Cancer Center.

On average each year, we have 16,000 inpatient admissions, deliver 2,000 babies and provide the region’s only Level III NICU. Owensboro Health physicians perform nearly 24,000 surgical procedures, including nearly 200 open-heart surgeries. Our physicians and staff have 70,000 Emergency Department visits, more than a million outpatient visits annually. Visit our home page for more information.