NIH Blood Bank

Convalescent Plasma

What is Convalescent Plasma?
Plasma is the liquid part of blood. Convalescent plasma means plasma that comes from people who have recovered from an infection, like the coronavirus that causes COVID-19. This plasma may contain antibodies against the virus. Antibodies are proteins that your immune system makes after you have had an infection, that can neutralize or kill the virus and help you to recover. Convalescent plasma may be a treatment option for patients with COVID-19.

Is Convalescent Plasma Treatment Proven to Work?
Although promising, convalescent plasma has not yet been proven to always help as a treatment for COVID-19. This approach has been tried in a very small number of people in early studies, and some of them improved with this treatment. Many large blood centers are beginning to collect plasma across the United States to address the Coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic.

What is Plasmapheresis?
Plasmapheresis is the standard procedure by which plasma is separated from whole blood and collected. Blood flows through a single needle placed in an arm vein, into a machine that contains a sterile, disposable plastic kit. The plasma is isolated and channeled out into a special bag, and red blood cells and other parts of the blood are returned to you through the same needle.

Is Plasmapheresis Safe?
Absolutely. The machine and the procedure have been evaluated and approved by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA), and all plastics and needles coming into contact with you are sterile, used once and discarded. At no time during the procedure is the blood being returned to you detached from the needle in your arm, so there is no risk of returning anyone’s blood to you but your own.

Who Is Eligible to Participate in the Convalescent Plasma Program?
The current criteria for convalescent plasma donation are:

  • You must meet all routine blood donor criteria
  • You need to have had a positive test for COVID-19
  • You need to have recovered from COVID-19, with NO symptoms for at least 28 days*
  • *IF you have recovered with NO symptoms for at least 14 days, but less than 28 days, then you need to have a repeat test that shows that you are now negative for COVID-19

Some frequently asked questions about blood donor criteria can be found on our website: Can I Donate If ...

How Long Does Plasmapheresis Take?
Plasmapheresis procedures take about 40 minutes, but you should allow another 20 minutes for staff to obtain your medical history. Every effort will be made to make the experience relaxing and enjoyable.

How Do I Arrange to Donate Convalescent Plasma?
The NIH Blood Bank is not enrolling Convalescent Plasma Study donors at this time.

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This page last updated on 10/18/2023

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