PRC opens convalescent plasma center, calls for donors

Published July 13, 2020, 12:14 PM

by Merlina Hernando-Malipot

The Philippine National Red Cross (PRC) announced that its convalescent plasma center located in Manila will start operations today, July 13, urging qualified recovered patients to participate through blood donation.

PRC chairman and CEO Senator Richard Gordon, Secretary General Elizabeth Zavalla and Director for Blood Services Dra. Christie Monina-Nalupta together with representatives from the Department of Health (DoH) during the site visit of the new Covalescent Plasma center in Port Area, Manila (PRC / MANILA BULLETIN)

The PRC established its National Blood Center in Port Area to serve as “another weapon” to fight the Coronavirus-2019 or COVID-19.

In a statement, PRC chairman and CEO Senator Richard Gordon said they endeavored to open the facility after medical experts from the Philippine General Hospital (PGH) attested to convalescent plasma therapy as “effective treatment” against COVID-19 with 90% of patients who have undergone the said treatment recovering from the disease.

“Ayon sa mga doctor sa PGH, nine out of 10 ang nakakarecover dahil sa convalescent plasma [kaya] nagkaroon bigla ng pag-asa ang mga may COVID (According to PGH doctors, nine out of 10 recover from convalescent plasma therapy so those with COVID suddenly had hope),” Gordon said. “Ito ay isa sa mga armas natin laban sa COVID (This is one of our weapons against COVID),” he added.

Under convalescent plasma therapy, plasma from COVID patients who already recovered from the disease will be transfused to patients who are still battling with COVID-19.

Convalescent plasma contains neutralizing antibodies that help recipients fight off the infection.

“Pinilit naming magkaroon ng convalescent plasma center para mabigyan ng pag-asa ang mga kababayan natin na may COVID (We pushed for a convalescent plasma center to give hope to our countrymen with COVID-19),” Gordon said. “Yung mga nagkaroon na ng COVID-19 at gumaling ay maaaring magbigay ng dugo para maisalin sa ibang nakikipaglaban pa sa COVID-19 (Those who have had COVID-19 and are cured can donate blood to be transmitted to others who are still fighting COVID-19),” he added.

Those qualified to donate are recovered patients between the ages 18 to 65.

They have to undergo physical and medical examinations. They also need to fill up the blood donation questionnaire and meet the criteria to qualify as a donor.

PRC explained their blood samples “would have to undergo additional testing” to ensure that their COVID-19 antibody levels are useful to recipients.

Those interested may call PRC’s hotline at 09175820499 or dial 143.

“Napakahalaga nito [kasi] mabibigyan ng dugo ang mga nangangailangan at mabibigyan ng pag-asa (This is very important because we can give blood to those who need it and we can give them hope, too),” Gordon said.

To ensure an initial supply of convalescent plasma, blood was collected from PRC’s frontliners this week. Their blood samples are now undergoing testing and processing.

Gordon expressed hope more individuals who recovered from COVID-19 will donate their blood.

“Kung kayo pinatawad na ng Panginoon at binigyan ng panibagong buhay, lalo kayong magiging dakila kung magbibigay kayo ng dugo dito sa convalescent plasma center dito sa Red Cross (If the Lord has forgiven you and given you new life, you will be blessed more if you donate blood here at the convalescent plasma center here at the Red Cross),” he ended.