Two months ago, Washington was the first epicenter of the coronavirus outbreak in the United States. The curve has since flattened here, suggesting that social distancing measures are working — and for those who do contract COVID-19, many more are recovering than dying.
And now, local health care professionals are taking part in a national effort to search for new treatments and vaccines, largely by looking at blood plasma donations from people who have recovered from COVID-19.
These blood plasma samples could be a critical piece of the puzzle in developing a treatment or vaccine because they contain COVID-19 antibodies — proteins that might help fight the infection. These antibodies can not only be studied, but they also can be administered as an emergency treatment to critically ill COVID patients.
Locally, in Pierce and South King Counties, Cascade Regional Blood Services is collecting donations from recovered patients — of which there are many — and distributing them through MultiCare hospitals, as well as a national network called BioLinked, a software system that connects local blood centers with clinical trials and medical research.
Enumclaw resident Alissa Kelli Sarbiewski is one of many recovered COVID patients who has decided to donate her blood plasma to research.
“I donated plasma because I want to help others who are suffering with COVID-19,” Sarbiewski said. “If my antibodies are the way I can pay it forward, I’m eager to take part. The biggest lesson in all of this for me is that even the hardest trials can become positive and meaningful when seen through a lens of potentially helping someone else.”
If you have tested positive for COVID-19 and since recovered, visit crbs.net or contact 1-800-24-BLOOD for more information on how to donate. Blood donations from those who have not been affected by COVID also are welcome and encouraged: the pandemic has dramatically interrupted the U.S. blood supply as people practice social distancing. These donations also can be made via Cascade Regional Blood Services.