Weeks after her COVID-19 diagnosis, Megan Hoard of York County walked into the Apple Hill Medical Center to donate her blood plasma, becoming the first plasma donor for COVID-19 treatment at a WellSpan donation facility. Hoard said she had recovered from mild symptoms related to coronavirus, and now wanted to help others.
“I at least want to give back in any way that I can,” she said. “Not everyone is as fortunate as I was in recovering from the virus, if there is something we can do to help—just do it.”
As part of the Food and Drug Administration’s expanded access program through the Mayo Clinic, WellSpan Health physicians have started to use convalescent plasma treatment to help COVID-19 patients.
“The blood of those who have had the virus has antibodies that can help others who are very sick fight the disease,” said Michelle Erickson, M.D., WellSpan Blood Donor Services. “This approach has worked in the treatment of viruses through history and so far, some of the sickest patients with COVID-19 have seen some positive changes in their condition.”
To date, 37 patients have been treated with convalescent plasma at WellSpan Good Samaritan Hospital, WellSpan Chambersburg Hospital, WellSpan Ephrata Community Hospital and WellSpan York Hospital.
“Blood and plasma donation is very safe, and we are taking the proper precautions at all of our donor centers,” explained Dr. Erickson. “We are screening all of our donors to make sure they are healthy and 28 days past their last symptoms related to coronavirus.”
“The prick in the arm was the worst part. Then you’re done and you get a snack,” said Hoard as she reflected on the donation process.
Hoard says plasma donation is something she was looking to do for a while and is urging more people to give back in any way they can. “I feel really good about it. This is a time where a lot of people want to give back by planting a tree or a garden, this is how I did it—and it eased my mind that I am helping.”
WellSpan Health operates blood donation offices at the Apple Hill Medical Center in York County and at WellSpan Good Samaritan’s Norman Drive Blood Donor Center in Lebanon County. Across the region, WellSpan works with The Central Pennsylvania Blood Bank to secure blood donations for patients.
Recovered COVID-19 patients who are interested in donating plasma can call their local blood donation center for an appointment, 717-741-8307 (York), 717-270-8960 (Lebanon) or visit WellSpan Blood Donor Services.
Learn more about plasma donations.