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Blood drive provides opportunity to pay it forward

As many feel helpless in this different time, there are still small ways to provide a large help.

The Suffolk Business Women’s Association is hosting a blood drive from 2 to 6 p.m. on March 15 at the Suffolk Elks Lodge, 329 W. Constance Road. This drive comes during a pandemic where donations have been the difference between life and death.

A member of the Suffolk Business Women’s Association has seen the need for plasma donations from COVID-19 survivors. The husband of this unnamed member was admitted to the hospital in critical condition with COVID-19. He had days left until the doctors gave him a plasma donation from a survivor.

“The antibodies in the plasma restored his lungs 50%,” said Julie Bartley, a member of the Suffolk Business Women’s Association. “He is still battling the virus but has been given a chance to overcome it.”

Bartley’s husband, meanwhile, received CPR from a stranger in the middle of a pandemic while experiencing cardiac arrest. She now wants to give back to strangers in the community, as a stranger helped her and her husband. Bartley feels that blood drives are an easy way to do so, as she also sees how it helped her friend’s husband.

The need is something very real in the community. According to Silver Nelson, account representative for Mid-Atlantic American Red Cross Blood Services, Type AB for plasma is universal, just like O-negative blood. It’s very rare but very needed.

“Once in that critical stage, the only fighting chance is plasma with antibodies to help them bounce back,” said Bartley. “Without the plasma, my friend’s husband would not have made it this far. It was a critical moment.”

Donated blood is tested for COVID-19 antibodies, and donors will be notified on their app if antibodies are found. The ones with antibodies are sent to help those in critical condition.

With a pandemic and the world feeling as in a crisis, donations have gone up as people feel the need to help but have no other way to do so.

“In December, we had more plasma donated than any other month with an increase of 250% from October,” said Nelson. “So many have gotten over it, and it’s a survivable thing. There is no stigma. We just need what you got.”

According to the American Red Cross, one plasma donation can help up to four patients in critical condition.

Download the American Red Cross Blood Donor app to track donations, receive updates about antibodies found and sign up for drives.