New Jersey is ramping up efforts to get ahold of plasma donations from people who have recovered from COVID-19, as physicians and federal health officials tinker with ways to use it for treating current patients.
Now, the American Red Cross plans to open two sites in North Jersey to collect donations starting Monday: One at the American Red Cross blood center in Fairfield and the other at University Hospital in Newark.
University Hospital received a nod from the U.S. Food and Drug Administration in mid-April to begin trying out plasma as a way to treat COVID-19 patients.
Those who recover from the virus have certain antibodies in their bloodstream, known as convalescent plasma, that can be administered to patients with COVID-19 to boost their body’s ability to respond to the infection, according to the Mayo Clinic.
The FDA began efforts in March to coordinate blood donations on a mass scale and get them from donors to COVID-19 patients.
“This will increase access to plasma donation opportunities for Newark, the surrounding region, and significantly increased capacity for plasma donations across New Jersey,” Shereef Elnahal, chief executive officer at University Hospital, said on Saturday.
“In other words, more patients in New Jersey will be able to get this therapy because of this new site.”
Roughly 100 COVID-19 patients have been treated at University Hospital with the use of convalescent plasma, according to Gov. Phil Murphy.
“The more we can attack this virus where its toll has been the greatest, the more lives we can save,” Murphy said on Saturday. “This is a partnership that we are extremely excited about, and as we continue to follow the science we know that it is just a matter of time before together, we defeat COVID-19.”
On April 21, the Virtua Voorhees Hospital in Vorhees announced two patients it treated – a man and a woman both in their 60s – recovered from COVID-9 after being administered a treatment of convalescent plasma.
Donations can be arranged at the Red Cross’s website. Interested donors will need to fill out an eligibility form and await a follow-up interview.