By Rachel Colletta, BSN, CRNI, IgCN, VA-BC
COVID-19 has wreaked havoc on the entire world in ways that are apparent to most of us on a daily basis. The lack of personal protective equipment and other critical medical supplies, staying safe while social distancing, depression and anxiety from isolation, and our hard-working healthcare providers are at the forefront of our minds during this time. The images on the news tear at our heartstrings and cause us to look inside ourselves. We wonder if there is something we can safely do to make a difference while we collectively go through this crisis. I am here to tell you: There is.
Plasma donations have fallen dramatically during this time of social distancing. What does this mean? It is critical to keep a steady flow of plasma to make the plasma protein therapies that you, your family or friends need to stay healthy. Without plasma donors, access to products may be impacted in the year to come.
To bring awareness to this critical issue, the Immunoglobulin National Society (IgNS) has launched the #itsmyturn campaign. This proactive movement to drive first-time donors to plasma collection centers will keep the supply of plasma flowing through this crisis and beyond.
What Can You Do? How Can You Help?
While you may not be able to donate plasma yourself, you can mobilize your community and your network of friends and family.
Plasma donation centers remain open and are considered essential to this country's infrastructure. Like other businesses, donor centers are taking precautions to protect both staff and donors, including social distancing and limiting the number of donors in the center at any given time. Additional measures such as waiting in the car until the scheduled appointment time work to control the amount of exposure in the waiting area. Any potential donor should call their his or her local center to see what additional safety measures are in place during the COVID-19 pandemic.
I recently visited a local center as a first-time donor, and I was impressed at the measures in place to provide a safe and comfortable donation process. I was taken smoothly from one screening area to the next, with little waiting time. The donation itself took about 45 minutes, and it went off without a hitch. I didn't experience any adverse reactions, and the collection was a success. As I watched the level of "liquid gold" rising in the container, I couldn't help but think about how many people would benefit from this one donation. It gave me a feeling of pride, knowing that I have it within me to save a life.
It is essential to understand that donating plasma is a long-term commitment. All donations are held for a period of time before being released to the manufacturing process. During this time, the plasma is tested on multiple occasions to ensure it is free of viruses. First donations are discarded if the donor does not return for a second donation. You must donate at least twice to make a difference. I made my appointment to return for my second donation before I left the center.
As a nurse of 32 years, I've cared for hundreds of patients who rely on plasma protein therapies. I have seen firsthand how these products save lives. I am donating on behalf of all of my former patients. Your family, friends, coworkers and communities can do the same for you. All you have to do is ask.
Spread the word. Mobilize your networks. Act now. The #itsmyturn campaign is in full swing. For more information, visit the IgNS website. To find a local donation center for your networks, visit www.donatingplasma.org.
We are all in this together.