The Central California Blood Center is the first blood center in the country to produce pathogen-reduced plasma from patients who have recovered from COVID-19. It’s now being used at local hospitals to help save lives.
To help stop the COVID-19 outbreak, the FDA has expedited an experimental treatment involving using the plasma of patients who have recovered from the Coronavirus and injecting it in patients who are critically ill with the disease.
Blood centers from across the nation have been asked to draw the plasma from recovered patients. This process called Apheresis Plasma donation is an existing component of blood bank operations.
“For us, the difference was that we’d been already set up to produce pathogen-reduced platelets,” said Ersilia Lacaze, of the Central California Blood Center. “So when the time came to collect plasma from recovered COVID patients, we knew we could move quickly, to make it pathogen-reduced plasma.”
With the help of their partners at the CERUS Corporation, the Central California Blood Center became the first blood center in the nation to complete the process.
“Simply put, it means that we are the leaders in the delivery of blood products for those who need it most: The patients of our Central Valley,” Lacaze said. “It also means that Fresno and the Central Valley were on the map nationally in the midst of several efforts to battle COVID-19.”
Currently Community Medical Centers, Saint Agnes Medical Center and Kaweah Delta Health Care District are using the pathogen-reduced, convalescent plasma to treat hospitalized COVID-19 patients. Hospitals outside of the Valley could also use the treatment in the future.
“The hospitals are working with us on follow-up, success stories that I hope to share soon,” Lacaze said. “We are asking anyone who has recovered from COVID-19 and has been asymptomatic for at least 28 days to head to our website and complete the interest form that allows us to determine if they qualify for donation.”
To learn more about donating plasma and the efforts of the Central California Blood Center to fight the COVID-19 pandemic, go to their website, DonateBlood.org.
The Central California Blood Center started as the Valley Blood Bank in 1949. It’s grown to serving patients at 30 hospitals in Fresno, Tulare, Madera, Kings and Mariposa Counties.
Between 5,000 to 6,000 pints of blood must be collected per month to meet the needs of patients in our Central Valley communities.
To learn more about how you can donate blood visit their website.