Instead of using retirement as an opportunity to slow down, 82-year-old Lee Montgomery prefers to stay busy as an American Red Cross volunteer, helping out at blood drives in his community a few times a week. On his first day as a volunteer, Mr. Montgomery learned that contrary to common belief, there is no upper age limit to donate blood with the Red Cross as long as individuals meet all other donor eligibility criteria.
Deeply Personal Experience Motivates Plasma Donor
This spring Mr. Montgomery was hospitalized for nearly a week with pneumonia and other severe complications caused by the coronavirus. He was so sick that he could only stomach ice chips, and as a result lost 20 pounds. “Nobody will know how sick you can get from this stuff until you’ve been there,” he said. It was a struggle to feel like himself again, but nine months later his health is fully restored.
Mr. Montgomery’s personal fight against the coronavirus now motivates him to roll up his sleeves and show up for hospital patients who are ill, alone and in need of additional treatment options that may help them to recover from COVID-19. He’s proof that individuals of all ages, who are in good health, can still make a lifesaving impact through blood donation.
“I’m still pretty active and in good shape, so I made an appointment to give and just finished my fourth donation,” said Mr. Montgomery.
His commitment to selflessly donate his antibody-rich plasma was strengthened after tragically losing his younger brother to this deadly coronavirus. “I know about a dozen people who have tested positive and have been really sick. As long as it says I’m antibody positive, I’m going to give,” said Mr. Montgomery.
Help COVID-19 Patients Now
Those who have fully recovered from the coronavirus may give their convalescent plasma or simply donate their blood to help provide treatment options for COVID-19 patients. The Red Cross is antibody testing all blood donations collected. Now every antibody positive blood or convalescent plasma donation may help COVID-19 patients.
Eligible convalescent plasma donors can give with the Red Cross every seven days for up to three months. While eligible whole blood donors can safely give every 56 days.
To be eligible to give convalescent plasma an individual must be:
- In good health and generally feel well.
- Have a prior, verified diagnosis of COVID-19, but are now symptom-free and fully recovered from COVID-19 and at least 14 days from last date of symptoms.
- Meet all regular blood donation requirements plus some additional criteria.
Additionally, the Red Cross asks individuals who have fully recovered from COVID-19 and want to help first complete the Donor Request form on our website. If they are eligible to give, a Red Cross representative will contact them to schedule a donation appointment at a Red Cross or another blood collection organization facility near them.