TWIN FALLS — The American Red Cross is accepting blood donations from those who have had COVID because they contain valuable antibodies in their blood, helping people who are currently fighting the virus.
The medical term is called convalescent plasma therapy, and it gives those currently infected a chance to recover more quickly.
Regional Donor Services Executive for the American Red Cross, Eric Horton, said, "It gives your immune system a boost. So, normally it's going to take your immune system much longer to develop a sufficient number of antibodies to effectively combat the virus. This gives you a leg up, kind of a jolt of antibodies from someone who has already gone through that."
There are still some criteria that people need to meet before donating blood. "It's 14 days from being symptom-free. Then that's where you go to our website, and then you fill out this form, and we will walk you through those steps because we want to make sure that you truly are eligible," said Horton.
Once the form is filled out, someone from the red cross will be in contact to help finalize steps, answer questions someone may have, and decide whether you can donate.
Lee Montgomery, an 82-year-old man who has recently retired and is now volunteering at the American Red Cross, had COVID back in April. He was hospitalized for several days but still made a full recovery. Once provided the opportunity to help current patients, he didn't hesitate and is now encouraging others to do the same.
"Time is nothing if you think you're going to save somebody's life by going in there for two hours. I don't know anybody that wouldn't give up two hours to try and save somebody's life," said Montgomery.
One obstacle some people may face is that the only donor center where people can directly donate convalescent plasma is in Boise. If you're in Twin, you can still donate blood, but it would then be transferred to Boise, where they can then collect the plasma. For communities that may not have that luxury, the Red Cross would refer you to the nearest facility where it can be done.
The Red Cross has received numerous plasma donations, yet since they act as a nonprofit, they need to ensure they consistently meet the demand.
"We have to increase the supply of blood donors in the community. So, making sure that the public knows that. That it is still critically important more than ever, we're seeing more cases of COVID now than ever before," said Horton.
For those who would like to donate, all information can be on the Red Cross website.