COVID: Plasma donations plummet, donors needed

NEW YORK (WABC) -- Plasma donations collected from patients who have recovered from COVID-19 have plummeted in recent weeks which is causing concern for New York and other parts of the country.

When the pandemic first hit New York City, donor after donor showed up to donate what's called convalescent plasma.

Doctors are using the antibodies found in the blood of those who recovered from COVID-19 and they're giving it to ill patients who are currently suffering from the virus. Some believe it could speed up recovery and reduce the need for ICU beds and ventilators.

"It is life-changing," said Angela Monteagle, of New York Blood Center.

The New York Blood Center has been a collection house for plasma. It's a place where people can go to donate and hospitals and doctors can receive the plasma they request.

Over the last few weeks, they've seen the amount of donors cut by more than half.

"We had an inventory that was set and ready to go for New York in case we need it in the Fall and now our shelves are now empty," said Monteagle.

Not only is New York running low, but hospitals in hot spots across the country are also now requesting plasma for their patients from Florida, to Texas, to California.

The New York Blood Center needs at least 1,000 donors a week to keep up. They're below that mark.

"It's to help New Yorkers and it's also to help the rest of the country," said Monteagle.

With so many people who have tested positive in the Tri-State area, it's one of the largest pool of donors in the country with the potentially life-saving antibodies. One plasma donation can help up to three patients.

"As everyone came to help New York at the beginning of the pandemic, it's now our time to step up and help the rest of the country," she said.

They're also facing a shortage of regular blood due to fewer mobile and corporate blood drives.

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