The U.S. Air Force is participating in a program launched by the Department of Defense to collect convalescent plasma from COVID-19 patients to be used as a possible treatment for the virus.
“We plan to collect more than 8,000 units of plasma from individuals who have recovered from COVID-19,” Lt. Gen. Dorothy Hogg, Air Force Surgeon General, said. “This is a big job and we need your help.”
When a person contracts COVID-19, their immune system creates antibodies to fight the virus. These antibodies are found in the plasma. Plasma with infection-fighting antibodies is called convalescent plasma.
Through this program, the plasma is collected from only patients who have fully recovered from COVID-19. The idea is to transfuse the plasma into a sick patient who is still fighting the virus if they qualify for this type of treatment. It may boost the immune system of the patient and help with the recovery process.
“Early research shows plasma from individuals who have recovered from a (COVID-19) infection contains antibodies that can help patients with severe COVID-19 illness,” Hogg said. “Early results in convalescent plasma therapy have shown great promise.”
Donations will be accepted at 15 Armed Services Blood Program centers across the United States, as well as in Guam and Germany. The list is available online.
“Our goal as a lifesaving program is to always provide a safe and ample supply of blood products. The need is now,” Army Col. Audra Taylor, chief of the Armed Services Blood Program, said. “We are calling for all who are healthy, able, and eligible to donate today to help us all stand mission ready and save lives.”
Several COVID-19 patients in the Military Health System have already received convalescent plasma transfusions as part of their treatment.
“The first patient to receive convalescent plasma in the Air Force occurred in the intensive care unit at Keesler Air Force Base (Mississippi) in April of this year,” Chief Master Sgt. G. Steve Cum, Medical Enlisted Force chief and Enlisted Corps chief, said. “This patient received plasma from the Armed Services Blood Program and was treated, has fully recovered and has been discharged.”