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'We need help right now': Milwaukee-based blood center nears critical shortage of convalescent plasma

Posted at 5:20 AM, Nov 19, 2020
and last updated 2020-11-19 07:59:39-05

MILWAUKEE — Tens of thousands of people are waking up in a hospital bed, fighting COVID-19. A promising treatment we can distribute right now is in low supply: convalescent plasma.

Veristi Blood Center is nearing a critical shortage. In the past four weeks, the need has increased and the supply shrunk.

Medical director Dr. Dan Waxman oversees the distribution to five Midwest states. He says Wisconsin leads the need by miles.

“We have been sending out 100 to 200 plasma products a week in Wisconsin. Last week alone, we sent out 760 plasma products," said Waxman.

That is a 26 percent increase from before.

Convalescent plasma cannot be made in a lab. It can only come from people who have beaten the virus.

Their plasma contains antibodies that can help hospitalized patients.

“So every donation can make 3 to 4 products that’ll treat 3 to 4 patients and donors can come back weekly up to 12 times,” said Waxman.

That means one donor has the ability to help up to 48 people hospitalized with coronavirus.

Waxman says the therapy is effective with just one dose, but blood types need to match.

“That’s why it's important we get all sorts of donors," Waxman said.

If you are interested in learning more about donating convalescent plasma, click here.

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