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Keeping a healthy supply of plasma donations remain a big challenge

South Texas Blood and Tissue Center are expanding donation operation to other Texas communities.

SAN ANTONIO — The South Texas Blood and Tissue Center is opening a donation facility for convalescent plasma in Victoria, Texas to give their community a chance to help in the fight against the coronavirus.

The plasma, which medical experts say contain antibodies against the virus if the donor has previously been infected, has proven itself a powerful weapon in the fight against the coronavirus. But keeping a healthy supply is its own challenge.

The Blood and Tissue Center is facing a unique problem in tracking the supply of convalescent plasma. Normally, blood donations are tracked in days.

“What we like to maintain is a three-day stock level,” said Elizabeth Waltman, Chief Operating Officer with the South Texas Blood and Tissue Center. “So what that means is if we didn’t collect another unit of blood for three days, we would have enough to carry us for that 72-hour period.”

But when it comes to the coronavirus, normal does not exist.

“Before COVID-19, we did not collect convalescent plasma at all,” Waltman said. “The need for convalescent plasma is growing dramatically.”

Since cases started to spike in Texas, donations have been shipping out to hospitals as quickly as they’ve come in.

“It’s heartbreaking to see those empty shelves, knowing that there’s thousands of patients who’ve recovered already,” said Blood and Tissue Center Corporate Communications Specialist Roger Ruiz. “And there’s still hundreds and thousands of patients throughout south Texas that rely on our help every day.

On Monday, the Blood and Tissue Center will begin accepting donations in Victoria. Eventually, they plan on taking donations in the Rio Grande valley as well.

“We’re asking the community in the Victoria area to reach out to us,” Ruiz said. “If they’ve recovered from COVID-19, send us an email and let us know that they want to come out and they want to help.”

Waltman said wherever someone chooses to donate, it is vital that they keep their appointment.

“In less than 24 hours, you could make a life-or-death difference for somebody that’s in a hospital.” she said.

Anyone who has recovered from COVID-19 who would like to donate convalescent plasma can volunteer by visiting South Texas Blood's website.

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