Red Cross calling for donors amid shortage in convalescent plasma to treat COVID-19 patients

It's not a cure, but many doctors believe convalescent plasma can help patients survive the coronavirus. The problem is the demand is greater than the supply.
LOS ANGELES (KABC) -- It's not a cure, but many doctors believe convalescent plasma can help patients survive the coronavirus. The problem is the demand is greater than the supply.

Convalescent plasma is donated by people who recovered from the coronavirus and now have antibodies.

One donor who has become a familiar face to Eyewitness News viewers is Los Angeles police Cmdr. Cory Palka. He took a knee during a demonstration to open up dialogue with protesters in a moment that went viral.

The veteran officer previously battled COVID-19. He went to the American Red Cross in Woodland Hills Wednesday to donate life-saving convalescent plasma for a second time.

The antibodies in Palka's plasma will be infused into patients fighting the virus.

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An LAPD commander who has recovered from coronavirus is helping others by donating convalescent plasma.



"They found some benefit in giving it to patients really early on in the course of their illness," said Dr. P. Dayand Borge, Red Cross Divisional Chief Medical Officer. "They seem to do a lot better."

He said the Red Cross has collected and distributed more than 20,000 convalescent plasma products nationwide, but the need is surging.

"Our orders are exceeding our daily collections at this point," Borge said.

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As more coronavirus survivors get to the other side, many are stepping forward as plasma donors.



Collecting plasma is challenging. While the pool of blood donors stay in a fixed location, convalescent plasma donors are a moving target.

"We're chasing this pandemic where it's hot to collect these donors," Borge said. "Just like everybody, we're following the path of the virus."

Studies also show donors are only eligible within a three-to-four month window after recovering. Blood type is also an issue. With convalescent plasma, A-B blood types are the universal donors, but they only make up 4% of the population. That's why the Red Cross needs donors of every type.

"We're not ruling out anybody based on blood type. We want everybody to come," Borge said.

Palka says if you've recovered, you have the means to help someone else recover.

"By donating our blood, our plasma, our organs, it's just our responsibility as American citizens. And it's a pleasure for me to help and to give something that is so important to keep me alive that will allow someone else to continue their life," Palka said.

Anyone who has tested positive for COVID-19 is urged to register at RedCrossBlood.org.
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