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DOD closing in on COVID-19 convalescent plasma collection goal

Image of Technician wearing a mask, looking at different blood products. The apheresis process separates whole blood into parts, including yellow plasma as seen in the left bag. Doctors are using COVID-19 convalescent plasma to treat critically ill patients with COVID-19. (Photo by Eric Pilgrim)

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The COVID-19 Convalescent Plasma (CCP) Collection Program is a Department of Defense effort to obtain 10,000 units CCP with emphasis on blood donations by members of the military community who have recovered from the disease. CCP will be given to critically ill patients, and to support the development of an effective treatment against the disease. Potential donors should visit the Armed Services Blood Program website to find a complete list of available collection centers.

In just three months, the Department of Defense passed the 65% mark toward meeting its goal of obtaining 10,000 units of COVID-19 convalescent plasma, or CCP, by Sept. 30.

The CCP campaign began in early June to collect plasma from recovered COVID-19 patients to support the development of potential therapies against the highly infectious respiratory virus.

CCP is the liquid part of blood collected from patients who have recovered from a COVID-19 infection. The Food and Drug Administration recently issued Emergency Use Authorization for CCP, authorizing its administration by health care providers, as appropriate, to treat suspected or laboratory-confirmed COVID-19 hospitalized patients.

“Even as we have passed the midpoint, we’ve still got a long way to go to reach our goal. We need all of our beneficiaries who have recovered from COVID-19 to consider donating their convalescent plasma,” said Army Col. Audra Taylor, Armed Services Blood Program division chief.

The ASBP is collecting CCP at nearly all of its donor centers through either whole blood donation or a donation of plasma only. “The most efficient way to collect convalescent plasma is through a process called apheresis. This process takes approximately two hours total time from prescreening to post-donation. During collection, it separates the plasma, or liquid part of the blood, from the red blood cells which are then returned to the donor’s body,” said Army Col. Jason Corley, director, Army Blood Program. A donor can give whole blood donations about every two months, while a donor can give plasma donations more frequently.

Potential donors who have recovered from COVID-19 must be symptom-free for at least 14 days. They should call the ASBP before donating to set up an appointment and ensure they meet eligibility requirements, which include evidence of COVID-19 documented by a laboratory test.

ASBP blood donor centers collecting CCP through apheresis and whole blood donations are located at:

  • Fort Benning: Sullivan Memorial Blood Center
  • Fort Bliss Blood Donor Center
  • Fort Bragg Blood Donor Center
  • Fort Gordon: Kendrick Memorial Blood Center
  • Fort Hood: Robertson Blood Center
  • Fort Leonard Wood Blood Donor Center
  • Joint Base Lewis-McChord: Armed Services Blood Bank Center-Pacific Northwest
  • Joint Base San Antonio-Fort Sam Houston: Akeroyd Blood Donor Center
  • Joint Base San Antonio-Lackland Blood Donor Center
  • Keesler Air Force Base Blood Donor Center
  • Landstuhl Regional Medical Center: Armed Services Blood Bank Center-Europe
  • Naval Hospital Guam Blood Donor Center
  • Naval Medical Center Camp Lejeune Blood Donor Center**
  • Naval Medical Center Portsmouth Blood Donor Center
  • Naval Medical Center San Diego Blood Donor Center
  • Naval Station Great Lakes: Blood Donor Processing Division
  • Tripler Army Medical Center Blood Donor Center
  • U.S. Pacific Command Armed Services Blood Bank Center*
  • Walter Reed National Military Medical Center: Blood Services
  • Wright-Patterson Blood Donor Center*

*ASBP blood donor centers collecting CCP only via whole blood donations
**ASBP blood donor centers collecting CCP only via apheresis

Anyone who wishes to donate whole blood can visit the ASBP website to find upcoming blood drives or call their local blood donor center.

“It's easy to make a donation appointment,” said Navy Lt. Cmdr. Colleen Cordrick, director of the Navy Blood Program. “Go to militarydonor.com, type in your city, state, or zip code, and a list of available locations and drives will appear. Once you've signed up, please try your best to keep the appointment! Unfortunately, we are seeing a larger rate of no-shows, putting an additional strain on the system.”

She added that every missed appointment equates to two missed opportunities to collect plasma—one from the person who didn't show up, and another from the person who could've made that appointment time. “If you can’t make it,” said Cordrick, “please let the donor center know as soon as possible. We look forward to making your experience as safe and comfortable as possible.”

Taylor expressed confidence that active duty service members, retirees, and military health beneficiaries are up to the DOD collection challenge. “If you have recovered from COVID-19, please make your appointment today to help give others a fighting chance and combat COVID,” she said.

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