Illinois coronavirus: Red Cross needs convalescent plasma donations for COVID-19 patients

CHICAGO (WLS) -- Every summer, blood centers brace for supplies to run low and this year the American Red Cross said it's facing not just blood shortages, but an emergency need for convalescent plasma, a potentially life-saving treatment for COVID-19 patients.

"A convalescent plasma donation is really the plasma from your blood full of antibodies if you've recovered from COVID-19, to donate to other patients who may be suffering from COVID," explained Joy Squier, Red Cross.

The Red Cross has seen demand for convalescent plasma more than double over the last month, as the number of coronavirus cases increases across the U-S. So the organization is urging people who have recovered from COVID-19 to donate their plasma.

"Convalescent plasma can help up to three people," Squier said.

Raul Martinez, who lives on the South Side, contracted COVID-19 in April, and said the illness lingered for weeks because of his asthma.

"It really affected my breathing. I couldn't sleep because I would wake up because of the lack of oxygen," he said.

Martinez has since recovered, and was inspired by the plasma drive held recently by members of his church, which is headquartered in South Korea.

Some members of the church contracted COVID. Martinez plans to donate soon.

"This plasma is very important for research and vaccination, and to help save a life," he said.

Plasma donations are taken at the Red Cross office in Chicago, but there are dozens of locations across the city and suburbs to make an appointment to give blood.

As extra incentive the Red Cross will give you a $5 Amazon gift card if you donate between August 1 and September 3.
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