Glinda Miller is thankful for the generosity of a selfless COVID-19 survivor for helping her recover from COVID-19 and allowing her to celebrate life’s gifts—her expected third grandchild. “I think it’s the most unselfish thing someone has done,” said Miller.
Convalescent plasma is collected from individuals who have fully recovered from the coronavirus. These COVID-19 survivors have antibodies in their blood that may help patients like Miller struggling to fight the virus. A single donation could potentially assist up to four patients recover from this potentially life-threatening infection.
A Ticklish Cough Turned Into COVID-19
This summer Miller and her husband David took a trip with friends to celebrate the Fourth of July. Everyone on the trip was supposed to have quarantined and been healthy before the weekend. Yet, she returned home with a ticklish cough that quickly progressed to a fever, body aches and unbearable headaches—she had come down with COVID-19.
After monitoring her oxygen at home and noticing it had dropped to dangerously low levels, Miller was rushed to Aultman Hospital in Canton, OH. “The first day they weren’t sure if I was going to need a respirator or if I was going to make it,” said Miller. Ultimately, she relied on oxygen for most of her hospitalization.
Donated Plasma Helped Save Glinda’s Life
Before receiving a lifesaving plasma transfusion, Miller could not breathe on her own. When her family called to check in, she could only listen. “I didn’t have the breath to talk,” she said. Convalescent plasma was an unknown treatment to Miller, but she was willing to try it after reading information provided by her medical team.
She received the plasma transfusion on a Friday evening and felt better soon after. “When I called my husband on Saturday morning, he was shocked by how my voice sounded,” said Miller. Her oxygen level had improved, and she was finally able to hold a conversation. “By Saturday, I could already breathe easier and by Sunday I was off the oxygen. I went home on Monday.”
COVID-19 Survivors are Urged to Give Plasma
The American Red Cross urges COVID-19 survivors to sign-up to give their plasma to help meet the needs of patients battling coronavirus. With approximately 2% of the U.S. population testing positive for COVID-19 antibodies, there are a limited number of individuals who may be eligible to give convalescent plasma. Since July, the Red Cross has been able to begin to slowly rebuild our supply of convalescent plasma with the help of generous donors. However, a critical need remains for individuals who have fully recovered and received a verified COVID-19 diagnosis to give.
Additionally, the Red Cross is testing all blood, platelet and plasma donations for COVID-19 antibodies. As part of this effort, plasma from whole blood donations that test positive for COVID-19 antibodies may be processed into a convalescent plasma product to help patients battling this virus. Now, blood donations made at any Red Cross blood drive or blood donation center may be helpful in this effort.
In this ever-changing pandemic environment, it’s important that COVID-19 patients have access to all treatment options available to help them recover-- which includes much-needed convalescent plasma. To sign-up to donate convalescent plasma visit RedCrossBlood.org. Eligible convalescent plasma donors can give with the Red Cross every seven days for up to three months.