Frequently Asked Questions

How can my blood help save a life?

If you've had COVID-19 and recovered, your blood most likely has antibodies in it that are able to attack the COVID-19 virus. Plasma, which is the component of your blood that contains antibodies, can be used to treat COVID-19 patients and give them a better chance of fighting off the virus. Many COVID-19 patients worldwide have been successfully treated with convalescent COVID-19 plasma.

How do I qualify to donate my plasma?

Blood banks and hospitals generally require either a positive nasopharyngeal swab test or a positive antibody test. However, even patients with a positive nasopharyngeal swab test often don't have high enough antibodies for successful plasma treatment. Therefore, we strongly recommend that you obtain a Mayo Clinic, Mount Sinai or DiaSorin antibody test to ensure that your plasma has enough antibodies to be effective. We are pleased to be able to offer community-based antibody testing drives with the assistance of the Mayo Clinic and/or Mount Sinai testing facilities and in conjunction with local health organizations. Additionally, DiaSorin tests are offered at urgent care centers by Bioreference or Sherman Abrams labs. Visit our antibody test site page for a listing of urgent care centers that offer antibody testing and upcoming community-based antibody testing drives. Please remember to bring your insurance card and a mask to the antibody testing site.
If your antibody test shows that you have enough plasma (1.2 or greater for Mayo Clinic or 160 or greater for Mount Sinai), you will be eligible to donate plasma.

Can I donate plasma even though my locality has a stay-at-home order?

Blood and plasma donations are usually an exception to stay-at-home orders.

Is there a possibility that my plasma will not be used?

After donors donate plasma, the donations are screened before transfusion to ensure that they will not harm the recipient. The vast, vast majority of plasma donations pass the screening and can be used. One possible substance that may hurt the recipient if found in plasma is something called HLA antibodies. These HLA antibodies are found in the plasma of a small percentage of the population and can sometimes cause lung injury for the recipient. If HLA antibodies are found in your plasma, your plasma is highly crucial in the development of the HiG shot referred to above.

Which hospitals are you affiliated with?

Due to the efforts of our donor initiative, convalescent plasma therapy has been activated at Good Samaritan Hospital, Jersey Shore University Medical Center, Kimball Medical Center, Lenox Hill Hospital-Northwell Health, Long Island Jewish Medical Center-Northwell Health, Maimonides Medical Center, Monmouth Medical Center, Mount Sinai Hospital, North Shore University Hospital-Northwell Health, Rutgers Robert Wood Johnson Medical School-Rutgers University, JFK Medical Center, Westchester Medical Center, Hackensack University Medical Center, Memorial Sloan-Kettering, and Huntington Hospital-Northwell Health. This list continues to grow daily. If your area hospital needs access to antibody-rich COVID-19 blood plasma, please contact us for more information.

Are some people more likely to have HLA antibodies in their plasma?

Women, and particularly women who have been pregnant, are more likely to have plasma which contains HLA antibodies. The likelihood of having HLA antibodies in the blood rises with the number of pregnancies a woman has had. However, the vast majority of women do not have HLA antibodies.

I am a woman who has been pregnant at least once. Can I donate plasma?

As of now, we are prioritizing convalescent COVID-19 plasma donors who have a lower likelihood of having HLA-containing plasma. Therefore, if you have been pregnant before, we request that you do not register at a blood bank at this time to donate plasma. However, your plasma may be crucial for the development of the HiG shot, so we do recommend that you obtain an antibody test for that purpose. We will notify you at the point that plasma donation for the HiG shot becomes available.

It seems as though the number of new COVID-19 infections and hospitalization is decreasing. Is it still important to donate plasma?

It is true that in some areas of the country the number of new COVID-19 infections is trending downward. However, there are some areas where the number of new COVID-19 infections is rising. Moreover, even in areas where the number of new COVID-19 infections is decreasing, there are still many hospitalizations daily. Also, there is a high risk of a second wave of infections as the country reopens, especially in the vulnerable populations that have not yet been exposed. Additionally, we are working on enabling a pathway to allow the 1.7 million nursing home residents access to convalescent plasma treatment. Once this pathway is viable, the demand for convalescent plasma will increase rapidly. Finally, scientists are working on creating a purified version of plasma-derived antibodies that can be delivered as an injection. This is known as the HiG shot. The HiG shot is the logical extension of convalescent plasma. The raw material to produce this shot is the plasma from your donations. Our eventual goal is to have every patient who enters the emergency room in any hospital nationwide receive plasma, as the success of plasma therapy rises when given earlier on in the disease course.

How often can I donate plasma? And will weekly donation diminish my own protective antibodies?

Different blood centers have different regulations for plasma donation; please notify the blood center during registration if you have donated previously. Plasma donation does not lower antibody levels, even when donating as frequently as twice weekly. The body can produce more antibodies, and donation removes only a small amount.

What does the actual process of donation entail?

It is important to eat, be hydrated, and get a good night's sleep before donating. When you arrive at the donation center, plasma will be taken by inserting a needle into a vein in your arm by a process known as plasmapheresis. This process may take up to an hour.

How do I schedule an appointment to donate plasma?

The process differs depending on whether you have obtained an approved antibody test (see above) and signed an informed consent document at that time. If you have signed an informed consent document in conjunction with your antibody test, a participating blood bank will contact you to schedule an appointment; you do not need to take any action. If you did not sign an informed consent document, please contact a local blood bank or hospital that takes convalescent COVID-19 plasma donations. Please click here to access a list of convalescent COVID-19 plasma donation locations near you. To ensure that the blood donation site will take your plasma, check the box for Only Show COVID-19 Convalescent Plasma Donation Locations. When you find a suitable donation location, click on the link to register at that blood bank or hospital.