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Blood, plasma donations sought across nation

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Donated blood has always been a mainstay of modern medical care, but donated plasma is equally critical during the time of COVID-19.
The oldest and largest national independent nonprofit transfusion medicine organization, Vitalant, has launched a campaign to help COVID-19 and other patients through life-saving convalescent plasma and other blood donations, according to a news release.
“Donations are both safe and essential,” said Dr. Ralph Vassallo, chief medical and scientific officer for Vitalant, whose local collection point is United Blood Services at 1200 Commerce Dr., in Las Cruces.
Under the banner of ‘Because of You, Life Doesn’t Stop’ Vitalant's network of donation centers, in concert with its hospital partners operating under U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) investigational protocols, are collecting and transfusing plasma from eligible donors convalescing from COVID-19.
Recovered COVID-19 patients have immune-boosting antibodies to the virus in their plasma, which can be given to patients fighting COVID-19.
“Convalescent plasma from recovered COVID-19 patients is needed now, because it contains protective antibodies that may fight the virus and hopefully improve the outcome of COVID infection,” Vassallo said. “The need for these and all other types of blood donations has never been more immediate or more desperate. We believe that once Americans are fully aware of this crisis and the opportunity to save lives, they will respond as they always have in difficult times.”
In response to the global pandemic, Vitalant aims to raise awareness of the immediate need for plasma and the significant need for blood donations by highlighting these key factors:
Convalescent plasma therapy is the only currently available investigational antibody-based treatment for COVID-19
As shelter-in-place requirements are relaxed across the country, the weekly demand for blood components has increased by 25 percent compared to early April
The need for blood is significantly increasing now that elective surgeries are being rescheduled
Amidst the COVID-19 pandemic, the need for blood has continued for childbirth, cancer treatments, essential medical procedures, and everyday emergencies
Resurgent use of blood requires an immediate increase in donations to maintain the U.S. blood supply
Every blood donation can save up to three lives
 The U.S. Surgeon General and Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) have designated blood donation as an essential function, encouraging healthy and eligible donors to continue to donate even amidst COVID-19 response measures. Vitalant continues to intensify precautionary measures to ensure the safety of donors, patients and staff, according to the news release.
To schedule an appointment to donate blood and/or plasma, call United Blood Services at 575-527-1322, call Vitalant at 877-258-4825 or visit vitalant.org.

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