Iowa is delivering cutting-edge investigative treatment to help patients with serious COVID-19 symptoms. Local 5 was the first outlet to speak with a man who donated his convalescent plasma to a current coronavirus patient in the state.
Randy Clarkson said he likely contracted COVID-19 on a trip to Michigan in March. He felt very sick for about three days at home, but then recovered from the disease. He heard about the convalescent plasma investigative treatment being used on some coronavirus patients, and thought he should donate.
"I thought based on a lot of the stories I heard of people of all ages who got this virus, and I have a 91-year-old mother-in-law who came down with it, I thought it I can do something positive like give my plasma, I'm ready to do that," said Clarkson.
The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has approved the emergency use of convalescent plasma from people who have fully recovered from COVID-19. Current patients with serious or life-threatening COVID-19 infections or those deemed at high risk are eligible to receive the plasma. Recovered COVID-19 donors have antibodies in their plasma that attack the virus. Donated plasma from healthy donors who have recovered from COVID-19 is being trialed to determine its effectiveness.
Clarkson said that the process of donating was easy.
"They put you in a chair and they put a special type of needle as I understand it in your arm and it has three avenues that go into your body and they take fluids out and put fluids in, so it wasn't very painful, it takes about 45 minutes to an hour," said Clarkson. "It's really a painless ordeal and I encourage anybody who has recovered from this virus to really consider giving plasma."
LifeServe Blood Center is one of two Iowa-based blood centers that is collecting convalescent plasma from healthy COVID-19 recovered volunteer donors eligible to be used in hospitals. UnityPoint Health will begin contacting patients by phone who have recovered from COVID-19 and may fit the criteria to be a prospective donor.
The American Red Cross is also helping coordinate the effort to get recovered COVID-19 patients with donation opportunities.