Marines assigned to Marine Corps Recruit Depot San Diego in California who have tested positive for COVID-19 donated plasma at Naval Medical Center San Diego.
In support of the development of effective treatment, The Defense Department launched a campaign in late May to collect 8,000 units of plasma from patients who have recovered from COVID-19.
“The hope is that these Marines who have tested positive and recovered from COVID-19 will have developed antibodies,” said Ellyn Alcantara, a clinical nurse assigned to the medical center’s blood donor center. “These antibodies could lead to developments in treatment for COVID-19.”
All of the Marines volunteered to donate their plasma with the hope that their antibodies will help others.
“It makes me feel good to be a part of the solution to this pandemic,” said Marine Corps Pfc. Xavier Flores, a recent donor.
On arriving at the donor center, the Marines were given a medical health screening to determine their donor eligibility. Once they are cleared to donate plasma, a complete blood count and hematocrit test ensure the proportion of red blood cells in the body is optimal for donation and would have no adverse effects on the donor.
“A transfusion transmissible infection test will be performed on all donors as a part of their screening process,” said Navy Lt. Therica Reynolds, the officer in charge of the medical center’s Blood Donor Center. “We’re trying to maximize our plasma collection and do our part for patient care.”
Reynolds said apheresis — the plasma donation process — takes about an hour from the beginning of the screening process to the end of the collection. Convalescent COVID-19 plasma, or CCP, from recovered COVID-19-positive patients, has been used at the medical center to help symptomatic patients recover.
NMCSD’s mission is to prepare service members to deploy in support of operational forces, deliver high-quality healthcare services, and shape the future of military medicine through education, training, and research. It employs more than 6,000 active-duty military personnel, civilians, and contractors.
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