Northside Hospital urging recent COVID survivors to donate plasma

Northside Hospital System is seeing record high COVID-19 hospitalizations right now, and they’re not alone.

According to Georgia Department of Public Health - COVID-19 patients make up 27% of hospitalizations statewide.

Staff with Northside said COVID-19 patients make up 40% of their overall patient population.

Those hospitalizations have caused ER diversion in some healthcare facilities because they have so many patients coming in.

Because of the influx, Northside has run out of convalescent plasma to help treat current COVID-19 patients.

"We have, sort of, a helpless feeling among our staff members," Carrie Cox, the Executive Director of Atlanta Blood Services, said.  

We talked with Cox Tuesday afternoon. 

Atlanta Blood Services has supplied Northside with more than 1,700 units of plasma from hundreds of donors.

"The earlier the patient receives it, within the first three days after being diagnosed is really the optimal time for them to receive a transfusion," Cox explained.

Northside said there's now a waiting list for plasma and they're urging recent COVID survivors to donate.

The issue, according to Cox, is that current donors are several months into their recovery meaning their antibody levels have decreased.

"What we really need are donors who have recovered 14 to 90 days from the time they can come in to donate. That's when your antibody levels are at the highest level," Cox described.

The need for plasma has gone up dramatically as more people become hospitalized.

According to the Georgia Coordinating Center website, several metro Atlanta medical facilities are facing 'severe' emergency department overcrowding.

This is forcing some facilities to divert incoming emergency room or ICU traffic to other hospitals.

Health officials report nearly 85% of hospital beds are in use statewide including for non-COVID issues.

"Plasma is here for anyone who gets infected before they get the vaccine. That's what we are really focusing on right now is making sure we can get people through until we can get a good proportion of the population vaccinated," Cox told us.

If you're interested in donating, you need to be over 18, have previously tested positive for the virus or the antibody test and be symptom free for at least 14 days.

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