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LifeSouth encourages recovered COVID-19 locals to donate plasma

LifeSouth is looking for those who have recovered from COVID-19 to help save lives by donating convalescent plasma. 

“The need for convalescent plasma has increased 500% since the organization started collecting plasma from recovered patients in April and continues to rise as the virus spreads,” said Melinda Hinds, LifeSouth Community Development Coordinator. 

LifeSouth is testing all blood donors for COVID-19 antibodies in search of donors who could also donate convalescent plasma. Healthy blood donors who may have been exposed to the virus or recovered from COVID-19 are asked to donate. 

“As a chiropractor, I knew of my patients and friends who were in need of convalescent plasma transplants,” said Lindsey Robinson, who is a local chiropractor and lives in LaGrange. “I was seeing people online asking for donors and knew there was a need.” 

When Robinson contracted COVID-19 in late June, she knew she wanted to donate her plasma once she recovered. 

“I know it may sound cliché, but I was one of the lucky ones to only have mild symptoms and now I have the antibodies in me, which I can use to help other people,” Robinson said. “My original plan was to donate every two weeks but the virus really kicked my butt and I have been so exhausted. The hospital recommended that I only go once a month to donate my plasma. I have my next appointment scheduled for Thursday of next week to give a second round of my convalescent plasma.” 

According to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, “the plasma of individuals who have recovered from an infection like COVID-19 may contain antibodies made by the immune system that can neutralize or kill the virus. Convalescent plasma therapy provides antibodies from those who have recovered from the virus to people who have recently contracted the virus so they may be better able to fight it off.”

According to Hinds, donors must be fully recovered from COVID-19 and symptom free for two weeks before coming to LifeSouth to donate. 

“Your plasma will stay local,” Hinds said. “WellStar has had a lot of COVID-19 patients and are needing convalescent plasma because LaGrange had an increase in cases. With that has come a lot that are being hospitalized.” 

Hinds said that when there is a blood drive, or the bloodmobile makes a stop in Troup County, all the blood and plasma collected is delivered to the hospital within 48 hours. 

“Right now, we have a lot of people going into the Opelika center, which also serves and supplies Troup county,” Hinds said. “They are pulling a lot at Opelika and sending it to LaGrange as much as a possible.” 

Hinds added that in addition to convalescent plasma donors, all blood types, especially type O, are needed as blood drive cancellations at schools, universities and businesses due to COVID-19 continue to impact the local blood supply. 

“It only took them 45 minutes to draw out my plasma,” Robinson said. “LifeSouth only uses one arm which helps. The blood is also put back in you, so you feel almost completely fine after.” 

Additionally, as part of the normal blood donation process, a test will be performed on the donor’s blood to determine if antibodies are present in the plasma. 

To donate blood or convalescent plasma, visit www.lifesouth.org or call 888-795-2707 to schedule an appointment.  

“If you’ve been lucky enough to make it through having COVID-19, you can help spread the love and give your plasma,” Robinson said. “There is such a need for it right now, and you never know if it could be that person’s only hope.”