Recovered COVID-19 patients running into roadblocks donating plasma

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People in Minnesota who have recovered from COVID-19 tell 5 EYEWITNESS NEWS they are running into roadblocks donating plasma.

Sarah Moore is a nurse at a hospital in St. Paul. She tested positive for COVID-19 nearly a month ago and has been wanting to help others who have gotten sick.

"I beat COVID, I beat this, I survived and I would have the antibodies in my plasma to help other people," Moore said. "So they can take my plasma, give it to somebody who’s critically ill and save their life."

Moore said she tried to donate her plasma to Mayo Clinic, which has been designated the lead institution for the National Convalescent Plasma Expanded Access Program, but was informed she needed to test negative for COVID-19 before she could participate.

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Moore said she tried through multiple avenues to get tested again but no one was able to order a test for her because of the current shortage.

"I can’t get tested anywhere so I can’t donate," Moore said. "How frustrating is it that there are people who have recovered from this and are willing to help other people who are critically ill and you can’t?"

5 EYEWITNESS NEWS contacted the team at Mayo Clinic about this dilemma.

"I fully agree this is a very important story because, as more and more people recover from symptomatic COVID, and with the great interest in the convalescent plasma therapy, this is our pipeline to getting that plasma," said Dr. Andrew Badley, an infectious disease specialist at Mayo Clinic. "So it’s very important there’s clarity on how to do it."

Dr. Badley is now referring prospective donors to the American Red Cross Plasma Donation page.

An American Red Cross spokesperson told 5 EYEWITNESS NEWS, "In accordance with FDA’s eligibility requirements regarding the COVID-19 convalescent plasma program, individuals must have a verified COVID-19 diagnosis as well as be either symptom-free for at least 28 days prior to donation or symptom-free for at least 14 days prior to donation and have a negative COVID-19 test result."

Mayo Clinic hopes this will give recovered patients a better idea of when they can donate plasma and how to go about doing so

Moore said she is eager to participate.

"That’s all I want to do is help," Moore said, "and try in any way that I can to squash this bug or save somebody’s life or even help them get better."