Plasma donations needed as virus surge drains hospitals' supplies

As hospitals' available space continues to shrink, so does their supply of life-saving, convalescent plasma treatment for COVID-19 patients.

This Thanksgiving, Versiti Blood Center is encouraging Wisconsinites who have recovered from COVID-19 to give plasma -- an easy way the community can help fill an urgent need.

"You’re going to help others at a time when they really need it," said Dr. Dan Waxman, vice president and senior medical director for Versiti Blood Center of Wisconsin. "The antibodies in the unit of plasma, help fight the infection of someone who’s clinically ill now."

Convalescent plasma therapy is used to help treat patients hospitalized with COVID-19. Waxman said hospitals are running low on supplies as the number of coronavirus-related hospitalizations around Wisconsin surges.

"In the last couple of weeks, especially the last week, the inventories were so low as of yesterday, we were concerned that over this weekend, we're not going to be able to fill orders immediately," Waxman said.

With thousands of Wisconsinites who have already recovered from the virus, Waxman said hospitals' supplies could be replenished in a matter of days if people answer the call to donate.

"It’s a one-arm procedure. It’s a needle in one arm and blood goes into the machine, and we collect just the plasma," said Waxman.

It is a process that is similar to giving blood for any other occasion, just ask donor Kris Klug -- who headed in to donate for a fifth time on Friday.

Last month, FOX6 News cameras were rolling when Klug met a recipient of her plasma -- Unique Edwards -- a mother of three.

"To have met her was very meaningful," Klug said.

It's not just one patient who benefits. Each donation produces enough antibodies to treat up to four people, and donors can give plasma up to 12 times.

"This cannot be created in a lab," said Waxman.

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"We should just be a nation of giving, that it should never be an issue of a shortage for something so easy to do," Klug said.

People, like Klug, are giving the gift of life when so many lives have already been taken.

For more information on how to donate, visit versiti.org.

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