Local man donates plasma, doctor discusses what they know about effectiveness

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ALBANY, N.Y. (NEWS10) — As of this week, all plasma donations will now go through the American Red Cross instead of individual hospitals. The Red Cross will then distribute the plasma where it is needed.

One Saratoga County man, who recovered from COVID-19, said once he learned of the donations, he jumped on the opportunity to pay it forward.

“To be able to donate the plasma to help somebody else I think is definitely a worthwhile thing to do if it’s going to save somebody,” he said.

He said the process is similar to donating blood and took about 45 minutes.

“Basically, they put the needle in one arm and blood comes out, but there’s a return line. So they take your blood, it goes into a machine and it separates the platelets, the plasma, and the red blood cells, and then that is all returned to you, but the plasma is kept behind,” he said.

His donation will be enough to help approximately three patients.

“Ya know, it’s definitely near and dear to you because you, yourself, experienced these horrible symptoms and some days would lay there wondering if it was going to get worse, and you were going to die. So if donating the plasma can give somebody just a little bit of hope and the strength to be able to recover from the symptoms and become healthy again, I definitely think it’s worthwhile,” he said.

Chief of Pulmonary and Critical Care at Albany Medical Center, Dr. Marc Judson, said the hospital has given more than 30 patients plasma treatments. In terms of how well it’s working, he said he’s not sure at this point.

“The convalescent serum may be making all the difference in the world or it may be doing nothing. There are so many variables in these patients. I think the only way we’re going to be able to answer that question, and we will be able to answer that question, is when we analyze data from thousands of patients who have been given this,” he explained. “So, yes, I can anecdotally tell you there are some patients who really got better. The premise of this makes complete sense to me and I think it is a hopeful treatment, but to be scientifically fair about it we don’t know.”

Dr. Judson said the doctors are incredibly thankful for the donors who have taken the time to go out of their way to help pay it forward and doing whatever they can to help out in the fight.

“I can tell you the recipients are very appreciative, and if the donors could hear that, I think that would be very good for them to hear,” he said.

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