PLEASANT HILL (KPIX 5) – As the COVID-19 surge continues to wreak havoc in hospitals in the Bay Area and across the country, the American Red Cross said it has a critical need for donated plasma, the part of the blood that contains antibodies, from those who have recovered from the virus.

In particular, Red Cross officials are asking people who have tested positive for COVID-19 who are now feeling better more than two weeks after their positive test, to donate their plasma. The plasma should contain COVID-19 antibodies, which are used for a transfusion treatment that is becoming more and more effective, but only if it is administered quickly.

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“If the patients can get this convalescent plasma from someone that recovered from coronavirus within the first couple days of them winding up in the hospital, a lot of times they get better really fast,” said Dr. Catherine Mazzei, the medical director at the American Red Cross, Northern California Region.

Due to COVID-19 protocols, donors can’t just walk in and donate, Mazzei said. Donors are asked to set up an appointment through their web site and to find the nearest donation center. Also, recovered patients are being urged to donate plasma soon it done soon, because it is needed now.

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“We collect between 800 and 1,000 units of convalescent plasma a day nationwide,” Mazzei told KPIX 5. “And we’re still sending it to hospitals the minute we have it. We can’t keep up in some cases depending on which blood type is needed.”

“So I would say if you know for sure that you had it and have a positive test, please sign up to give convalescent plasma through the automated procedure. You could give four doses of plasma at one time and help for patients with coronavirus,” Mazzei went on to say.

Regular blood donations are also welcome because they are also in short supply.

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Those interested can sign up at redcrossblood.org.