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San Antonio needs blood donations, especially from coronavirus survivors

A drive is planned for May 21-23 at the Alamodome. The plasma of those who have recovered contains antibodies that can help patients fight coronavirus.

SAN ANTONIO — The coronavirus crisis has led to a blood shortage in San Antonio, and at Sunday night's briefing officials urged residents to donate, especially if they have recently recovered from coronavirus.

Anyone can give the life-saving gift at a blood drive at the Alamodome scheduled for later in the week, and a powerful tool in the fight against coronavirus might be in the blood of survivors.

"Convalescent plasma is plasma carrying antibodies that are only present in people who have recovered from COVID-19, and these antibodies help attack the virus for the plasma recipient," said Paul Basaldua, who donated five bags his plasma after recovering from coronavirus in April.

RELATED: Local man donates five bags of plasma after recovering from coronavirus

He said that the first 3 people in San Antonio who received plasma were on ventilators with life-threatening cases, and all were out of the hospital within two weeks of receiving plasma. He said that the FDA-approved trial was mostly being used on patients with the most severe symptoms.

"It has proven to be a safe and effective way to treat COVID patients," Basaldua said. "On a personal note, I'll say there are few things more rewarding than knowing that you can help a fellow member of your community."

San Antonio / Bexar County coronavirus update - 5/17/2020

Mayor Ron Nirenberg and Bexar County Judge Nelson Wolff give Sunday's update on the coronavirus response in San Antonio and Bexar County. The city says they will not provide new numbers tonight.

Posted by KENS 5 & Kens5.com on Sunday, May 17, 2020

To donate, you must have tested positive for coronavirus, recovered, and be 14 days past the final day of symptoms. The process takes about an hour and a half.

"If you've had COVID, please donate," said Basaldua, noting that plasma lasts for 12 months. "If we can build up enough of a bank right now to last us through the winter and potentially a flu/COVID season that's gonna come when the temperatures go down, it would give us a great tool to fight with as a community."

Over 50 coronavirus survivors have donated so far, and four bags of plasma can treat five patients.

"You can make a difference in someone's life that is direct, immediate, and profound," said Elizabeth Waltman, South Texas Blood and Tissue Center CEO.

Blood donations are especially important right now, even if you haven't had coronavirus. Many blood drives have been canceled, and access to donors has been limited.

"We are in a shortage. Currently we have about a two-day supply of blood," Waltman said at the briefing, noting that it's an issue of both supply and demand. "Now with the hospitals performing non-emergent surgeries, we're in a situation where we need 500 units of blood to be donated every day."

To meet this need, they will be hosting the Double Down in SA Town Blood Drive at the Alamodome from May 21 through May 23. Donors must make appointment by calling 210-731-5590 or visiting this link.

"This is the blood that we will need to get us through the Memorial Day holiday, and also help us have a little bit of extra blood as we try to figure out where we're going to get all of these donors from as we move forward," Waltman said.

Everyone who donates will get a $10 H-E-B gift card, and the Silverado Event Center will donate $5 to the San Antonio Food Bank for every person who donates.

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