As they have the last six years, Ken Purcell and Donna Alnutt of Fabius, Onondaga County, enjoyed Valentine’s Day together. This year, their special day included reservations at the Liverpool Red Cross Blood, Platelet and Plasma Donation Center to donate convalescent plasma.
While the Valentine’s Day appointments were coincidental, Ken and Donna agree they were appropriate. “When I called to make the appointments, I was told there were two available on Sunday. When Ken and I were talking about it, we checked the date and realized that it was Valentine’s Day,” Donna recalled. “We’re very lucky and, since we’re two of the lucky ones, this is our way of giving back.”
COVID-19 convalescent plasma is a type of blood donation collected from individuals who have recovered from COVID-19 and contains high-levels of antibodies that might help patients actively fighting the virus. There are two ways COVID-19 survivors can help – through a convalescent plasma donation or by simply giving whole blood. Plasma from whole blood donations that test positive for high-levels of COVID-19 antibodies may be used to help COVID-19 patients.
The Red Cross is collecting convalescent plasma at over 170 locations throughout the country and antibody testing all blood donations collected at blood drives– making every blood or convalescent plasma donation an opportunity to help COVID-19 patients at a time when the need remains great.
Ken encountered symptoms of COVID-19 last March, and a test confirmed the diagnosis. His treatment required a hospital stay. Since then, he has donated plasma five times. “It’s my part of what I can do,” he explained. “It’s a great cause and I’m glad I can help.”
Ken’s attraction to the Red Cross dates back to 1981, as a blood recipient. He severed part of one hand in a farming accident. The immediate trauma and subsequent surgeries required numerous blood transfusions. “People donated to help me back then and now it’s time for me to help someone else,” he recalls.
Donna is a regular volunteer blood donor now as well. In fact, she learned she has valuable COVID-19 antibodies because of Red Cross antibody testing following a blood donation. She has donated convalescent plasma twice so far.
Ken and Donna give high marks to the volunteers and staff at the Liverpool location. Ken describes them as “awesome.” He added, “they make you feel good. It’s like a family affair.”
As the pandemic continues and we all grow weary of its devastating effects, it remains critically important that patients have access to all treatment options available to help them recover—which includes much needed convalescent plasma. If you are eligible and feeling well, please make an appointment today by visiting RedCrossBlood.org, using the Red Cross Blood Donor app or calling 1-800-RED CROSS (1-800-733-2767).
Story by: Dan Hartman, communications manager