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Man with highest COVID antibody test score for plasma donation backs donor appeal

26 August 2020

A record holding COVID convalescent plasma donor is urging more men to donate.

Paul Mates, 50, is now the convalescent plasma donor with the highest value in antibody testing to donate to NHS Blood and Transplant so far. (1)

Paul, a married security officer with two children, has just donated for the third time at Manchester Plymouth Grove Donor Centre.

He survived coronavirus after going from healthy to intensive care in just three days. Now he wants to help other people who get the coronavirus.

NHS Blood and Transplant urgently needs men who’ve had coronavirus to volunteer to donate plasma, whether they’ve had symptoms only or a positive test, because they generally have higher antibody levels.

Tests show men are roughly 50% more likely to have high enough antibody levels for the trials. NHSBT is taking donations and collaborating with the RECOVERY and REMAP-CAP platform trials.

The antibody-rich plasma of people who’ve had coronavirus can be transfused into people who are struggling to develop their own immune response. The antibodies could slow or stop the virus spreading. People who were more seriously ill generally have higher antibody levels. Men generally have higher antibody levels.

Paul said: “One Saturday in early April we ordered a Chinese takeaway but I couldn’t taste it at all. At the time, loss of taste just wasn’t on the list of symptoms.

“The following day I woke up with a temperature and by 7pm that night it was 40 degrees. My wife phoned 111 and they told us to get an ambulance and it all progressed from there.

“I was taken to Manchester Royal Infirmary and in hospital I soon started having breathing problems and I needed oxygen. By Tuesday morning, they told me I’d need to go into an induced coma, and I woke up again two weeks later.

“My wife said she was told there was a 50/50 chance I wouldn’t wake up again.

“At first after I woke up, I couldn’t even hold a cup. I spent four weeks in hospital in total.

“I made my first donation in early June, about a month after getting out of hospital. I’d never given blood before.

“It felt fine to donate plasma. What a wonderful machine! It takes blood out and spins it around to get the plasma and then the blood comes back in. It was quick, about 40 minutes and I felt fine.

“If my plasma can help other people, I am happy to do it. If I can help someone else who is ill, that is great.”

Professor David Roberts, NHSBT Associate Director for Blood Donation, and one of the plasma trial’s lead investigators, said: “We urgently need more convalescent plasma donations now, to help make sure plasma is readily available if we have a second wave.

“We especially need men who’ve had coronavirus to donate as they generally have higher antibody levels. You could save lives.”

Peter Horby, Professor of Emerging Infectious Diseases and Global Health in the Nuffield Department of Medicine, University of Oxford, and Chief Investigator for the RECOVERY trial, said: “For people unlucky enough to get seriously ill with COVID, the risk of death is alarmingly high. We desperately need better treatments and convalescent plasma holds real promise. I urge anyone who can to come forward, donate, and help us find a new treatment.”

Plasma donations are being taken in: Birmingham, Bradford, Bristol, Cambridge, Edgware, Gloucester, Lancaster, Leeds, Leicester, Liverpool, Stratford, Bexleyheath, Twickenham, Luton, Manchester, Newcastle, Nottingham, Oxford, Plymouth, Poole, Sheffield, Southampton, Stoke, Tooting, and London’s West End.

If you had coronavirus, you can volunteer to donate plasma.

Notes

  1. Paul’s donations showed a maximum EUROimmun value of 40.314. This is higher than the EUROimmun value of 40.157 from the previous highest antibody value donor. Up until August 16th, 12,589 people have made convalescent plasma donations to NHSBT.
Pictures
  1. Paul Mates donating convalescent plasma
  2. Paul Mates receiving oxygen 12 hours before he was put into an induced coma