Popular queries about convalescent plasma donation and clinical trials
As part of the national research effort against coronavirus, we are collecting plasma for use in a national clinical trial.
For this research, we need convalescent plasma - plasma from people who have tested positive and have fully recovered from coronavirus.
Who can donate convalescent plasma?
Convalescent plasma can only be donated by someone who has had the virus. It is also important that donors have fully recovered from COVID-19, and that their body has had time to develop a good antibody response.
We are currently collecting plasma no sooner than 28 days after recovery.
Plasma is in your blood. It is a clear, yellowish liquid that makes up about half of your blood volume and carries red and white blood cells and platelets around the body.
When someone recovers from a virus their plasma contains a specific protein, called an antibody, produced to fight the infection.
Convalescent plasma is the antibody-rich plasma of someone who has recovered from a virus, in this case COVID-19.
We are collecting COVID-19 convalescent plasma for use in a trial looking at possible treatments for COVID-19.
If approved, the trial will investigate whether convalescent plasma transfusions could improve a COVID-19 patient’s speed of recovery and chances of survival.
We will also be collecting convalescent plasma so that, should the trial show improved outcomes, we will be in a position to supply this treatment to hospitals more widely.
Thank you for contacting us to help with this trial.
We are expecting a significant number of offers of help from the public, so it may be a few weeks before we get back to you. We apologise for any delay.
We are prioritising donors with confirmed test results who have already recovered, people who are already blood donors, and people who are healthy enough to be able to donate.
It is important that donors have recovered properly and their body has had time to develop a good antibody response. For these reasons, we are currently collecting plasma no sooner than 28 days after recovery. Thank you again for your support and we hope to contact you soon.
Most of the plasma donation venues are blood donor centres in larger cities. This is because these centres are already well-equipped, have large populations of potential donors nearby, and we can offer a wide range of opening times.
We will also use new venues in key cities just for plasma donation. See a map of current plasma centres.
Plasma can be donated through the same process as a whole blood donation, but it will mainly be taken as a dedicated plasma donation. Dedicated plasma donation (apheresis) will take around 45 minutes though the whole visit will take a bit longer. The appropriate form of donation will be discussed with you before any donation takes place.
If you’ve never donated before, we can reassure you that it’s easy. Many people describe the needle being inserted as no more than a sharp scratch. It is also safe. Our sessions are clean and our team will look after you.
There are circumstances that may prevent donation being possible, some of these can be established through the online registration form, while others will be discussed in follow up contact and at the point of donation.
At present we are prioritising people who have a positive test result for COVID-19.
As the programme progresses, we may be able to take donations from people who believe they have had COVID-19 but not had a confirmed test. We will test donations for the antibodies which show they have had COVID-19.
No, the collection of plasma is separate from our usual blood donation process. You will need to register using the convalescent plasma registration form.
It may take a few weeks for us to get back to you. We apologise for any delays.
If you are a already a blood or platelet donor, you will have to postpone further donations while taking part in the convalescent plasma programme. You can donate plasma four weeks after your last blood donation.
We only collect after 28 days because donors need this time to have recovered and built up enough antibodies. You will be able to donate 28 days after being discharged from hospital, or 35 days after diagnosis if you were not treated in hospital.
We do not prevent people from becoming plasma, blood or platelet donors based on their sexuality. The rules for plasma donors are the same as those for whole blood donors and this currently means being asked to wait to donate for certain sexual behaviour-related risks.
There are some restrictions for donors who take part in activities deemed risk behaviours by the Advisory Committee on the Safety of Blood, Tissues and Organs who advise UK ministers and health departments. These restrictions are regularly reassessed. Visit Blood.co.uk for the latest donation restrictions for men who have sex with men.
Your immune system will quickly replace any antibodies we collect so donating plasma will not affect your future antibody levels.
We expect that antibody levels will fall naturally in all people after some months. Your immune system can quickly produce antibodies to viruses that it recognises.