NEWARK, New Jersey (WABC) -- A family from New Jersey reached out for help when they felt they were out of options to get a plasma transfusion for their critically ill mother.
The latest treatment for critically ill COVID-19 patients is blood transfusions from patients who have beaten the disease. The technique, which uses convalescent plasma, has been used as far back as the 1918 flu pandemic.
But the program is just rolling out, so while there is no shortage of plasma, some families complain there are delays getting the blood to the patient.
That's why the daughter of a Newark woman in the ICU reached out to get help from Nina Pineda and 7 On Your Side to help save her mom's life.
Gaby and Monica's mom, Maria Da Silva, was moved to the ICU Wednesday morning at St. Barnabas Medical Center.
She and her husband of 46 years both contracted COVID-19. Avelino recovered, but the grandmother of four has been alone in the hospital since April 10 with pneumonia in both lungs.
The daughters are hoping a plasma transfusion will help save her life.
"There is no shortage, luckily her blood type is universal so we don't know what the hold up is," said Monica and Gaby.
Just days ago the FDA requested patients who have recovered from COVID-19 to donate their blood. The hope is their antibody-rich plasma helps the sick patients' own immune system attack the virus.
Now hospitals nationwide are starting to use convalescent plasma to treat severe cases.
"We were inundated with people trying to donate," says Angela Monteagle from the New York Blood Center.
The NYBC even had to expand their hours and 17 locations are accepting donations.
"It's a safe environment to give, two to four lives can be saved with one donation of plasma," Monteagle said.
The Da Silva family was hoping their mom could receive a transfusion. Family and friends who have the same blood type rushed to donate.
7 On Your Side tried to put the NYBC and St. Barnabas together to provide the needed blood. And late Wednesday, the family told us they were told their mom would be getting a transfusion of convalescent blood later in the day.
St. Barnabas made the following statement:
"At Saint Barnabas Medical Center, we are utilizing all available and medically appropriate tools and treatments to combat COVID-19, including convalescent plasma transfusions. Saint Barnabas Medical Center is registered in Mayo Clinic's Expanded Access convalescent plasma Trial. Requests are made for the appropriate convalescent plasma to meet individual patient requirements. Due to the limited supply of convalescent plasma available to patients, coupled with the need to match patient blood type, the demand for convalescent plasma exceeds the supply at this time. We are working tirelessly with the New York Blood Center and the American Red Cross on a daily basis to obtain the needed convalescent plasma for all of our patients who qualify for the Expanded Access trial. If you or someone you know has recovered from COVID-19 and would like to consider becoming a convalescent plasma donor."
If you'd like to donate blood, click here to learn more from the Red Cross or click here to learn more from the NYBC.