The COVID-19 surge is bringing to light the desperate need for convalescent plasma, which in some cases has helped patients fight off the deadly coronavirus.
Valerie Perkins, whose husband just received a plasma donation Tuesday, says she hopes it's the boost he and so many others fighting COVID-19 may need.
"This is his seventh day, so he’s getting plasma as we speak," Perkins, a Menifee resident, said."
It is the news Perkins so desperately wanted to hear, that her husband Emmanuel would receive convalescent plasma, a week after being admitted to Loma Linda Medical Center.
"I thought we were going to lose him," Perkins said. "He was having such a hard time breathing, it didn't sound good."
She added, "And I thought, 'If he can’t get this blood, he’s not going to make it.'"
Blood donated by people who’ve recovered from COVID-19 has antibodies. The plasma can be given to patients with the virus to boost their ability to fight it, according to the FDA.
Perkins says she learned that as COVID cases surged, the number of plasma donors did not do likewise.
"I put a plea out when I found out there’s a shortage and you can't do direct donations to loved ones, you need more people who have recovered from COVID, need to go out and donate," Perkins said.
Blood shortages are common after the holidays, but this year, with COVID-19, they are much more severe, with the American Red Cross and Lifestream Blood Bank both making pleas for blood donations.
"The need is enormously increased, certainly the beginning of November," said Dr. Joe Chaffin, Lifestream's chief medical officer. "We now see levels of need for convalescent that are way higher than the first peak in July."
Perkins, who also has COVID-19, plans to help fill that need.
"Once i am symptom free for 28 days , I plan to donate myself and I’m going to have my husband donate too," Perkins said.
But first, she expects to welcome her husband home soon and she believes that plasma donation will help him get there.
"I’m going to tell him I love him and I’m so happy he’s home," Perkins said. "It’s been hard."
January is national blood donor month. Doctors say one donation could go to help at least three people.
For more information on how to donate, click here.