Fewer than 1 percent of those who’ve recovered from COVID-19 in Memphis have donated plasma


MEMPHIS, Tenn. — If you’re one of the 60,000 people in the Memphis area who has recovered from COVID-19, you could help advance research and help others fighting the disease.

Shelby County Commissioner Mick Wright is one of the few people in the area who has donated convalescent plasma after recovering from COVID-19.

The Commissioner recovered from a mild case in September. He said he caught it when his wife noticed his eyes getting red.

“I just didn’t have many symptoms at all but I’m glad I did and that’s why I tell people no matter how slight your symptoms, should get tested,” he said.

Now, he’s paying it forward. He’s donated convalescent plasma at Vitalant three times.

“I was excited to give back and turn a negative into a positive,” he said.

He said each time, the process took about an hour and he didn’t need to do anything different than a regular blood donation. But Wright is one of an extreme few.

“Collections are running behind, donations are running behind. So it’s important for us to get the word out,” said David Williams with Vitalant.

According to Williams, only 200 people in the Memphis area have donated plasma after recovering from COVID-19.

“The time frame plasma will help people has really become truncated,” said Dr. Stephen Threlkeld, an infectious disease specialist.

Threlkeld said they’ve learned a lot about convalescent plasma this year. They now know it’s most helpful in treating coronavirus soon after exposure, not once someone ends up in the hospital.

He’s hopeful.

“With the vaccine there’ll be less need for it moving forward,” he said.

But until then, Wright and Williams urged people to donate,

“Give the gift of life this holiday season,” Williams said.

“If you have had COVID and recovered, were among the lucky ones so now it’s our time to step up and give back,” Wright said.

If you want to donate, Vitalant requires you wait 28 since any symptoms or a positive antibody test. They’re not allowing donations from people who have been vaccinated.

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