Media contact: Ronnika A. McFall
ATLANTA (April 27, 2020) – In coordination with the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA), the American Red Cross recently issued a call to individuals who are fully recovered from the new coronavirus to sign up to donate plasma to help current COVID-19 patients. Convalescent plasma is an antibody-rich product made from blood donated by people who have recovered from the disease caused by the virus and is a potentially lifesaving treatment for critically ill COVID-19 patients.
To aid in fighting the pandemic, Frank Papola, Dekalb County resident and recovered COVID-19 patient, donated plasma at the American Red Cross Blood Donation Center on April 27, in Atlanta.
“I was one of the lucky ones,” said Frank. “If I can help one person live, that would just give the rest of my life meaning.”
Married, with two daughters and five grandchildren, Frank comes from a large family who enjoys music, the beach, boating, and the outdoors. He was a volunteer fireman for many years and he currently volunteers with Soldiers Angels at VA hospital, in Atlanta. Frank learned first-hand how critical, yet varying, the recovery process can be when he tested positive for COVID-19 in March.
“March 18, I woke up very ill and was admitted into Piedmont Hospital,” said Frank. “Being separated from my loved ones was the absolute worst and sleeping at night was impossible.” He shared that he quickly discovered the nurses and doctors taking care of him were his angels and heroes.
“They came in and out of my room every day, risking their lives. They were relentless in their care of me,” said Frank. “The nurse would even charge my phone, so I could talk and FaceTime with my family.”
Collaborating with the FDA, the Red Cross has developed a process to identify and qualify individuals who have recovered from the virus and have antibodies that may help patients seriously ill with COVID-19 in their recovery. The Red Cross is also working with the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and hospital partners to identify potential recovered COVID-19 patients to participate in this program.
Once Frank became aware of the convalescent plasma program, he signed up to help. “My life was saved. What a gift from God. If my plasma can save the life of another, there would be nothing better I can do in my lifetime, and I will do it over and over,” said Frank. “We have never experienced a more uncertain time. We should all band together and donate a lifesaving gift to humanity. Not only for the person receiving the plasma, but for their family, friends, and future children. It just brings heartfelt joy to know you will be a part of the cure.”
Convalescent plasma donation
All potential convalescent plasma donors are asked to fill out the online form on RedCrossBlood.org/plasma4covid.
If individuals meet the donation criteria, the Red Cross will follow-up about an appointment to donate at a Red Cross or non-Red Cross collection site—depending on where you live.
About the American Red Cross
The American Red Cross shelters feed and provide emotional support to victims of disasters; supplies about 40% of the nation's blood; teaches skills that save lives; provides international humanitarian aid; and supports military members and their families. The Red Cross is a not-for-profit organization that depends on volunteers and the generosity of the American public to perform its mission. For more information, please visit redcross.org or cruzrojaamericana.org, or visit us on Twitter at @RedCross.