To arms, to arms is a call dating back to both the Revolutionary and Civil War periods and now, brings to mind our present coronavirus situation. We should not remain quiescent during these quarantine times, but look for ways in which we can serve our community; and fight with our intelligence and indeed with our own drops of blood this once in a century pestilence. Ancient wisdom teaches us that to save one life, is to save a whole universe. People are coming together to make facial masks and protective gear for our healthcare workers. People are coming out of retirement and young children out of school looking for ways to help fight this horrible virus.

You may ask how you too, can serve. If you have recovered from COVID-19, I encourage you to reach out to the American Red Cross at RedCrossBlood.org/plasma4covid. Not only is your blood badly needed, but if you are recovering from a recent coronavirus infection, your blood COULD BE especially impactful.

St. Charles is one of many sites which has recently been approved to participate in a Mayo-sponsored national expanded access protocol to use COVID-19 convalescent plasma for the treatment of patients admitted to the hospital with severe coronavirus infections. More detailed information and recipient consent forms can be found at https://www.uscovidplasma.org. Convalescent plasma therapy has been around for over 100 years and initial studies from China show that antibodies confer immunity to control the virus and reverse harmful inflammatory damage. Preliminary data from the first 20,000 patients enrolled in the Mayo trial show a decrease in death and total hospitalization time in patients who have received convalescent plasma.

The state of Oregon has had 18,492 cases with 322 deaths, though the numbers can change daily. Deschutes County as of July 31, 2020 had 517 confirmed COVID-19 infections with several hundred of those people having now fully recovered from the illness. If you have survived COVID-19 and are symptom free for at least 14 days, have a verified COVID-19 diagnosis and meet other standard blood donation eligibility criteria you may be able to help. Having a readily available supply of convalescent plasma provides hope to patients now and in the future during this pandemic.

Donating convalescent plasma is safe and does not affect levels of the antibodies in circulation nor does it affect how long the antibodies remain in the blood. Over 150,000 Americans have now succumbed to this deadly virus, but COVID-19 survivors can help. Each convalescent plasma donation has the unique ability to help as many as three people battling the virus. These could be and it would be of significant benefit to those still suffering and those who will suffer, as well as the health care professionals, who are increased risk of infection themselves due to treating these patients, or even a neighbor or family member.

Please visit RedCrossBlood.org/plasma4covid to sign up to give today, as we need this precious therapy for those still suffering from COVID-19.

Dr. David Coutin is a retired immunologist who lives in Bend.

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