Mobile plasma drive makes donating convenient for hard hit communities

Demand for plasma from former COVID-19 patients rising

South Texas Blood and Tissue Center hosts mobile plasma drive on East Side
South Texas Blood and Tissue Center hosts mobile plasma drive on East Side

SAN ANTONIO – As coronavirus cases surge nationwide, so does the need for convalescent plasma from former patients to treat those who are currently sick.

A mobile blood and plasma drive on Wednesday attracted huge crowds to the city’s East Side, where residents got screened and donated plasma rich with COVID-19 antibodies.

“My whole family had COVID, and my grandmother was in the hospital, that’s where she got it. She had cancer. My mom would go visit her often. So, we ended up all getting it as family,” said 17-year-old Catherine Silva, who donated plasma.

All the members of Silva’s family fared differently with the infection.

“My siblings and I (did) pretty well with it. My parents had like more complications,” Silva said.

Silva’s 68-year-old grandmother, Rebecca Santos, didn’t survive. Her father, 53-year-old George Silva, had to be hospitalized and almost met the same fate.

“His heart had stopped,” Silva said.

Silva’s father received a convalescent plasma transfusion. He was out of the hospital within a week.

“That’s what ended up saving his life,” Silva said.

It’s why Silva gave her eighth donation of plasma on Wednesday, along with her mother, who has also donated routinely. Adding sentimental value, the deeds were done in a neighborhood close to where Silva’s mother grew up.

A mobile blood and plasma drive held by the South Texas Blood and Tissue Center along with West Care Texas filled the parking lot at the Ella Austin community center. With cases rising, Dr. Samantha Gomez Ngamsuntikul, of the South Texas Blood and Tissue Center, said drives like this are crucial going into the holidays.

“We are seeing an increase in the number of convalescent plasma that we are sending out to local hospitals. We’re seeing about a 31% increase,” Gomez Ngamsuntikul said.

Silva also asked former patients to spare a few minutes, which could save lives.

“Please donate,” Silva asked.

In order to keep up with the current demand for convalescent plasma, local doctors say they need about 40 plasma donations per day. Right now they’re only averaging about 25.

Another drive is scheduled for next month at the same location.

In the meantime, you can still learn how to get screened and donate by clicking here.

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