Donors needed as centre opens in Chelmsford for COVID-19 plasma trial

NHS Blood and Transplant has opened the doors of its new plasma donation centre in Victoria House, Duke Street, Chelmsford, and issued an urgent call to anyone who has had COVID-19 to register as a donor.

Plasma collected at the centre will be used in clinical trials to determine whether the antibody-rich blood plasma found in people who’ve had coronavirus – known as convalescent plasma – could be an effective treatment for COVID-19.

The plasma is transfused into patients who are struggling to develop their own immune response. The antibodies could slow or stop the virus spreading, which could save lives.

More than 40 people are already booked in to donate at the new Chelmsford centre over the next month and the number is growing every day.                                                                                                

Around 50 have received plasma transfusions at Essex hospitals.

Donations are urgently needed so that if the trials confirm patient benefit, plasma can be made readily available for general use in the NHS. You can register online by searching ‘donate plasma’.

Anyone aged 18 years or over who has had COVID-19 can  offer to donate blood plasma donor. Donating is easy – it takes just 45 minutes and the whole appointment, including time for snacks, lasts approximately 1 hour and 15 minutes.

Prof Dave Roberts, NHSBT associate medical director for blood donation, said: “We would love to see people in Chelmsford and Essex offering to donate so we can book them into donation appointments now. Donation is safe and easy, and you could save lives. Your body quickly replaces the antibodies afterwards.”

NHSBT especially needs more male and BAME donors to come forward as their plasma is more likely to contain the higher levels of antibodies required. People who needed hospital treatment are especially likely to have high antibody levels.

By the end of this year, there will be 42 plasma donation points across England so that 80% of potential donors can reach one within 45 minutes.

If you’ve had confirmed coronavirus or the symptoms, you can volunteer today to donate plasma at www.nhsbt.nhs.uk or simply search online for ‘donate plasma’.

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Mick Ferris

Editor Email: [email protected]