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COVID plasma donor meets his recipient

10 November 2020

The first person to receive blood plasma in the NHS Blood and Transplant COVID-19 treatment trial has given an emotional thank you to the donor who may have helped save her life.

Kugan Kugathas, 47, a charge nurse for Epsom & St Helier Hospital Trust, from Sutton in Greater London, donated his plasma at NHS Blood and Transplant’s Tooting Donor Centre in April, after recovering from the virus.

His antibody-rich plasma was used in May to treat Ann Kitchen, 63 from Lambeth, who was in intensive care with COVID-19 at St Thomas’ Hospital. She was the first person in England to receive convalescent plasma.

Recipient Ann Kitchen meets her donor, Kugan Kugathas

NHS Blood and Transplant and Guy's and St Thomas' NHS Foundation Trust worked together to enable Ann to speak to the man who may have helped save her life. (1)

Kugan spoke to Ann at home via Zoom from the Tooting Donor Centre.

Ann told Kugan: “It's amazing to see your face. There are not words on earth to describe how I feel. You are my guardian angel."

She added: “I am so thankful to Kugan and everyone else who is donating plasma. It’s been lovely to speak to the man who might have helped save my life. I just wanted to say ‘thank you’ to him for what he did. Seeing the plasma, it was like liquid gold coming into me.”

Kugan said: “It’s been amazing to meet Ann because I might have helped save her life. I am happy to donate and do my part. If you can donate, it’s a way to help others. I would say to other people who’ve had coronavirus - go for it and donate. It’s easy and you could save a life.”

Watch a video of Ann's thank you to Kugan on BBC Breakfast's Twitter

Plasma trials

NHSBT is collaborating with more than 200 hospitals through the RECOVERY and REMAP-CAP trials. The trials will determine whether the antibody-rich blood plasma found in people who’ve had coronavirus - known as convalescent plasma - could be an effective treatment for general use in the NHS.

The plasma is transfused into patients who are struggling to develop their own immune response.

The antibodies could slow or stop the virus spreading, which could save lives.

People can register to donate online.

Around 10,000 units of high antibody plasma have now been collected.

Professor Dave Roberts, Associate Medical Director for Blood Donation at NHS Blood and Transplant, said: “We are so grateful to people like Kugan who have donated their plasma, but we urgently need more donors to come forward today. This will provide plasma for the trial and, if it works, help make it available for as many people as possible in the NHS as a treatment for COVID-19.”

Dr Manu Shankar-Hari, Consultant in Intensive Care Medicine at Guy’s and St Thomas’, said: “Convalescent plasma is a promising treatment that could help patients whose bodies aren’t producing enough antibodies to curb COVID-19, and we need plasma for trials to help us to understand whether this treatment helps patients. We are incredibly grateful to all the people like Kugan who donate blood plasma, and to our patients, like Ann, who are taking part in COVID-19 trials.”

Anyone aged 18 years or over who has had COVID-19 can register to donate blood plasma.

Donating plasma

NHSBT especially needs more male and BAME donors to come forward as their plasma is more likely to contain the higher levels of antibodies required.

Donating is easy. It takes 45 minutes and the whole appointment, including time for snacks, lasts approximately 1 hour and 15 minutes.

By the end of this year, there will be 42 plasma donation centres across England so that 80% of potential donors can reach one within 45 minutes.

If you’ve had confirmed coronavirus or the symptoms, you can volunteer today to donate plasma by completing our online form.

Notes

  1. Every plasma donation has a unique tracking code which, with agreement from the donor and recipient, and cooperation from the hospital, transfusion laboratory, NHSBT consultants and donor records teams, uniquely enabled Kugan and Ann to meet.