Children's Hospital Colorado

Children's Colorado Seeks Recovered COVID-19 Plasma Donors to Help Future Patients

Children's Hospital Colorado | April 08, 2020

Doctors and researchers at Children's Hospital Colorado are joining the nationwide effort to evaluate convalescent plasma as a promising potential treatment for COVID-19. Our Blood Donor Center on Anschutz Medical Campus in Aurora, Colo. is seeking volunteers who have tested positive for COVID-19 and are now fully recovered to donate plasma that may help future patients.

Children's Colorado among the first to collect convalescent plasma for coronavirus patients 

Children's Colorado is one of the first healthcare systems in the country to begin collecting antibody-rich convalescent plasma to combat COVID-19. The program launched in late March when the Blood Donor Center received the request for a critically ill adult patient at a nearby hospital. Children's Colorado, a nonprofit pediatric health system, is now making convalescent plasma available to hospitals across the state.

How convalescent plasma works

Though the use of convalescent plasma in medicine is not new, the theory is promising for treating COVID-19, the disease caused by the novel coronavirus. People who recover from COVID-19 have antibodies to the disease in their blood but no longer have the virus.

"Those antibodies are like targeted missiles against COVID-19 in a person's plasma, which can then be given to a person actively fighting the virus," said Kyle Annen, DO, Medical Director of Transfusion Services and Patient Blood Management at Children's Colorado.

The plasma from a recovered person is collected via a simple process, similar to blood donation. The theory is that giving this plasma to a person fighting the disease will give their immune system a boost and help them recover.

Speaking to ABC News, Jerrod Milton, Senior Vice President of Operations at Children's Colorado said, "The theory here is very solid, and so we're very optimistic that this will actually help save lives and help reduce deaths and health complications caused by COVID-19."

The Blood Donor Center routinely performs therapeutic apheresis, the process of collecting donor blood components (like plasma and platelets) to treat certain medical conditions, including leukemia. Operating for nearly 80 years, the Blood Donor Center manufactures and supplies approximately 95% of the blood products needed for patients in treatment at Children's Colorado.

Convalescent plasma FAQs for potential donors and families

Those interested in donating plasma to help future COVID-19 patients can learn more in these frequently asked questions.

Donating plasma is similar to donating blood. During plasma donation, healthcare professionals use a process called apheresis and a specialized machine. They connect the donor to the machine, which then collects and spins the blood, separating it into plasma, platelets and red cells. The machine removes a small amount of plasma before returning the remaining blood components to the donor through the same vein. Our Blood Donor Center then tests and processes the plasma to prepare it for a sick patient.

To be eligible to donate, you must have had a confirmed positive COVID-19 viral test and be symptom free for 14 days. You must also be eligible for regular blood donation. Donors must also be at least 17 years of age (with parental consent if under 18 years old).

You are not eligible to donate plasma if:

  • You are currently on an oral antibiotic or immunosuppressive medication.
  • You are taking Proscar or Propecia.
  • You have had a new tattoo or piercing in the past 12 months.
  • You have had a blood transfusion or accidental needle stick in the past 12 months.
  • You have traveled to a malaria-endemic area in the past 12 months.
  • You have lived in the UK for more than 3 months between 1980-1996.
  • You have lived in Europe for more than 5 years.

If you meet the criteria outlined above, please call 720-777-3557 or email ConvalescentPlasma@childrenscolorado.org. We will follow up with you for pre-screening.

What comes next?

If you're eligible, we will arrange for a repeat nasopharyngeal swab at a nearby drive-up testing site to confirm you are now negative for the virus. At the time of your repeat test, we'll set up a tentative appointment for your plasma collection. If your swab is negative, we will call you to confirm your appointment time. If your swab is positive, we will notify you immediately that you need to self-quarantine as you are still shedding virus.

At the appointment, we will repeat the screening interview and take your vital signs before starting apheresis.

Yes. Donors are eligible to donate plasma again in 28 days

Unfortunately, we are not currently able to test for antibodies to COVID-19; however, we are working hard to develop a test for that. We hope to expand our ability to collect plasma from donors who were not tested for COVID-19 soon, and we will update this page if anything changes.

Yes. Blood and plasma donation are considered an essential service during safer-at-home measures.

We are proactively taking precautions to prevent exposure to the coronavirus (COVID-19), including: providing face masks for all donors, disinfecting all shared surfaces in between donors, carefully screening all donors and technicians, spacing chairs six feet apart and providing food sealed in individual packages.

The Blood Donor Center at Children's Colorado does not compensate plasma or blood donors. As a nonprofit health system, we recruit volunteer donors and uses their lifesaving donations to help patients in need.

This is an experimental treatment and physicians must get Food and Drug Administration (FDA) approval for their individual patient to participate. The FDA determines eligibility; but generally, this potential treatment is for patients who are critically ill in the ICU and on a ventilator.

We cannot facilitate directed donations for convalescent plasma at this time. Your donation will help someone who is critically ill with COVID-19, but we cannot guarantee that your donated plasma will go to a specific person.

Children's Colorado was among the first blood banks processing convalescent plasma for COVID-19, but additional centers are preparing to collect donations, too. If you are not close enough to donate at Children's Colorado, Anschutz Medical Campus, please check with your local blood bank.

In Colorado, recovered COVID-19 patients will soon be able to donate through Vitalant. Or, search for a blood bank near you.

Convalescent plasma FAQs for providers

The request for convalescent plasma must come from the physician directly caring for the patient. Providers should complete an eIND request through the FDA using form 3926.  Please reference the FDA's Revised Information for Investigational COVID-19 Convalescent Plasma.

Please email your requests and questions to PhysicianOrderCP@childrenscolorado.org. We will respond with additional instructions as soon as possible.

For more information, please visit USCovidPlasma.org.

Donating plasma is just one way you can help Children's Colorado and our community. Learn how you can help during the coronavirus crisis.

Or, see Children's Colorado's coronavirus resources, all in one place.

Editor's note: This page was updated May 7, 2020. Due to the nature of the coronavirus pandemic, recommendations can change quickly. Please follow all rules and guidelines set by state and local public health and safety authorities. Reference the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment (CDPHE) for immediate updates on COVID-19.

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