Coronavirus: Emirati plasma donor urges others to donate too

Plasma therapy is being used to treat coronavirus patients in the UAE

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An Emirati man who had Covid-19 is calling on anyone who has also recovered to help others still battling the virus by donating plasma, as he has.

KA, 42, tested positive for coronavirus on return to the UAE from a business trip in Europe on March 7. He spent two weeks at Sheikh Khalifa Medical City, where he was treated for the virus, and was discharged on March 22.

Why not help a brother, a sister, a friend or anyone in need

On Monday, after reading that the plasma from those who have recovered can help treat patients still suffering from the coronavirus, he went back to the hospital to offer his blood.

"The entire process took a maximum of 45 minutes and was painless," he told The National.

Doctors at SKMC tested his blood and then arranged for him to be taken to the blood bank, where he was hooked up to an aphaeresis machine. The machine separates plasma from blood and returns the platelets and red and white cells to the donor.

What is plasma therapy?

What is plasma therapy?

“I had two doctors and nurses who were with me all the time. I was asked if I felt fine and if I wanted a juice or a snack. It was a comfortable and seamless process,” he said.

KA said donating was “the least I could do for a country that gave me everything.”

“I was elated to be given the opportunity to give back a fraction to what was given to me. I heard that the blood bank was waiting for people to donate and I was wondering why would anyone hesitate to help. We are all in the same boat. Why not help a brother, a sister, a friend or anyone in need,” he said.

Blood banks worldwide have reported shortages in donations, saying donors are concerned about contracting Covid-19.

This week, SKMC said it had begun using plasma to treat coronavirus patients and were monitoring one particular case who had moderate to severe symptoms.

“We are still waiting for the results of this treatment and we are optimistic that it will be promising," said Dr Fatima Al Kaabi, head of haematology and oncology. "We expect the patient’s condition to improve soon.”

Hospitals across the UAE began using plasma therapy to treat the virus, after some studies showed that isolating antibodies from the plasma and injecting it into patients helped them recover faster.

Doctors have found that between 40 and 50 per cent of patients who undergo the treatment show promising results.

The use of plasma to treat Covid-19 was approved by the US Food and Drug Administration and has been adopted in hospitals worldwide. The technique was first used to combat the Spanish flu in 1918.

“Everyone who can must donate. The UAE gave us everything regardless of race and religion. We are all treated equally and are all facing this crisis together. We need to stick together and support each other now more than ever. We should not wait for a call asking us to donate. It should be your own initiative,” KA said.