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Community partners unite to promote plasma donations at South Texas Blood & Tissue Center

Two San Antonio law firms are supporting the South Texas Blood & Tissue Center’s efforts to collect convalescent plasma for COVID-19 patients by providing $50 Visa gift cards for each donation.

The donation was announced today as several community partners came together to rally support for convalescent plasma donations and help save lives in San Antonio and South Texas.

The launch of the program is the beginning of community-based efforts to increase donations of plasma by those who have recovered from a COVID-19 infection.

Carabin Shaw PC and Wyatt Law Firm PLLC are providing $50,000 each in gift cards to encourage South Texans who have recovered from COVID-19 to donate convalescent plasma. That plasma is used to treat patients with active infections, and it is one of the few treatments available for COVID-19.

The cards, which are being supplied by the firms and are not funded by the South Texas Blood & Tissue Center, a subsidiary of BioBridge Global. The cards will be distributed while supplies last.

“We felt it was vital for us to encourage people to make a lifesaving plasma donation,” said Jamie Shaw, a partner at Carabin Shaw. “It’s critically important to our community, and we want to encourage others to step up and help.”

STBTC is supplying hospitals with convalescent plasma, and it also aims to stockpile plasma donations for any future surges in demand. The average plasma donation provides enough for three doses, which are transfused to patients in hopes of helping their immune systems fight off a COVID-19 infection.

“The fight isn’t over, so we need to continue to collect plasma from recovered COVID-19 patients,” said Paula Wyatt, partner at Wyatt Law Firm. “We want to do our part.”

Businessman Paul Basaldua, who was one of the first convalescent plasma donors in San Antonio and has become vocal advocate for donations, has launched the Con Corazon Plasma Public Awareness Campaign. The project aims to increase local plasma donations from 2% of recovered patients to 10%.

“Our doctors in San Antonio want to use convalescent plasma for anyone admitted to the hospital with COVID-19, but we need more donations,” said San Antonio Mayor Ron Nirenberg. “We have had more than 33,000 people recover from COVID-19 in San Antonio, but less than 900 have become plasma donors.”

To help educate the community, TBS Studios has committed to creating a pro bono public service announcement explaining how convalescent plasma can benefit patients and the importance of donating.

Nationally, blood centers collecting convalescent plasma are looking to double the 100,000 doses given to patients so far by the end of August. The South Texas Blood & Tissue Center provided more than 4,400 of those doses.

“The Mayo Clinic reported that convalescent plasma can cut mortality rates in half, when administered at the right time,” said Elizabeth Waltman, Chief Operating Officer of the South Texas Blood & Tissue Center. “It shows that we need more people to make these lifesaving donations.

“We are so grateful for the contribution by Carabin Shaw and the Wyatt Law Firm, which we believe will have a significant impact on the effort to encourage donations,” Waltman added. “Their support, along with the leadership shown by Mayor Nirenberg and Paul Basaldua, give us confidence that we can meet our goal of making convalescent plasma available for every patient who needs it.”

The South Texas Blood & Tissue Center is the only organization in this area collecting convalescent plasma that can be transfused directly to patients with COVID-19.

Potential donors can find out more by visiting SouthTexasBlood.org or emailing COVID19@SouthTexasBlood.org. All donors must contact the center and be screened for COVID-19 antibody levels and symptoms before donating.

STBTC is taking donations by appointment only at the Donor Pavilion in San Antonio and its donor room in Victoria.

Athletic blood donors report fewer negative experiences

46-month research demonstrates safety of FDA guidance for low pulse rate population

Blood donors with low pulse rates experience fewer negative reactions than the general blood donor population, according to a review conducted at the South Texas Blood & Tissue Center.

Negative reactions – including things like bruising, dizziness or soreness – were reported in just 0.53% of donors who had a pulse rate of 50 beats per minute or less, compared to 3.36% of all donors during the same period.

Following the eligibility change, STBTC wanted to make sure blood donation was safe for donors with lower pulse rates.

Procedure

To follow the FDA guidance, the South Texas Blood & Tissue Center established this procedure:

  • When a donor was recorded with a pulse rate of 50 or lower, the phlebotomist contacted a nurse.
  • The nurse would evaluate the donor’s athletic activity and build, and make sure the donor had no cardiac issues.
  • The nurse would contact a physician, who would make the final determination about the donor’s suitability.

Just 13 reactions in low pulse rate donors were reported. None of the reactions were classified as severe.

“At STBTC, we want to ensure the safety of our donors,” said Dr. Samantha Gomez Ngamsuntikul, Associate Medical Director. “Donors with low pulse rates can donate safely.”

The research has been accepted for a poster presentation at the virtual AABB Annual Meeting.

Schedule a donation to give blood today by calling 210-731-5590 or visiting SouthTexasBlood.org/Give-Now.

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