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Local plasma donors helping hospitalized COVID-19 patients

We Are Blood has at least 40 recovered coronavirus patients donate plasma with hundreds more interested.

AUSTIN, Texas — Plasma donations are playing a critical role in the fight against COVID-19

So far, We Are Blood has had at least 40 recovered coronavirus patients donate plasma to help people who are still in the hospital battling the virus. Hundreds more have filled out paperwork and are waiting to learn if they qualify. 

"The plasma is being transfused into donors like a regular blood transfusion and the hope is that their plasma donation possessing the antibodies will be used by the patient's body to fight off COVID-19," said Nick Canedo, the VP of community engagement at We Are Blood. "[Plasma] has been used successfully in the past to fight prior new viruses like SARS, swine flu, ebola, before vaccines were ready for those as well."

In mid-March, an Austin-Travis County EMS (ATCEMS) medic contracted COVID-19. Now she's fully recovered and hoping to help others currently fighting the disease by donating her convalescent plasma.

Medic Mancias is the first public safety professional from the Austin area to donate convalescent plasma at We Are Blood. One donation can support multiple patients, according to ATCEMS.

"If my COVID-19 antibodies can help other patients who are combating this disease, then I can further fulfill my professional oath of service to save lives in this community but on a more personal level," Mancias said.


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Along with Mancias, Selena Xie, the president of the Austin EMS Association, is donating blood to We Are Blood.

"It is exceptional but not surprising that one of our medics who contracted COVID-19 would want to serve the community even further by donating plasma," Xie said.

In early April, 36-year-old Aaron Shumaker also donated plasma at We Are Blood. He tested positive for COVID-19 after a work trip to Vancouver, B.C., where he was exposed to someone else with the virus.

"The hardest part was that I had a persistent cough, more than anything," Shumaker said. "Having that opportunity to do something a little bit more and just help someone else [who] might be out of options or having a lot worse symptoms than I was was, just something that I wanted to jump on as quickly as possible."

RELATED: On the front lines: A conversation with the Austin EMS Association about working through the COVID-19 pandemic

According to We Are Blood, people who haven't had symptoms for 14 days will have to get a second test to ensure they are negative for the virus. If it's been more than 28 days, a second test isn't required. 

Plasma donors can donate every 28 days. 

Earlier this month, We Are Blood put out a call for recovered COVID-19 patients to donate their convalescent plasma to help patients actively fighting the virus.

WATCH: How ATCEMS medics are handling the stress of the coronavirus pandemic


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