MINNEAPOLIS, Minnesota — The American Red Cross is experiencing an emergency shortage of convalescent plasma, a potentially lifesaving treatment for COVID-19 patients.
"Convalescent plasma is a blood donation collected from individuals who have fully recovered from COVID-19 and it has antibodies in it that will help patients who are currently fighting this virus," explained Sue Thesenga, communications manager for the American Red Cross.
According to the Red Cross, an increase in COVID-19 cases across the U.S. has led to the shortage. The nonprofit is looking for more people who have fully recovered from the disease, willing to donate their plasma.
"I can't say enough about the Red Cross and how they handle the whole process of processing people in and out and making you feel comfortable through the entire experience," said Laurel Fischbach of Edina.
Fischbach contracted COVID-19 while on a ski trip in Vail, Colorado.
"February 21 was my first symptom. Tightness in the chest. But of course I just chalked it up to the altitude and skiing," Fischbach recalled.
Fischbach became one of the first in Minnesota to recover from the disease and donate her convalescent plasma for a Mayo Clinic study. She also gave to the American Red Cross and plans on donating again.
"It just warms your heart. It just makes you feel like you have something to give, something to give back," she said.
Thesenga said they're hoping for more people, like Fischbach, who are willing to donate their plasma. In the last month, demand for convalescent plasma more than doubled. Plasma products are now being distributed faster than donations are coming in. With each donation, survivors can help up to three patients recover from the virus.
"As this crisis continues, I think this is a time where we need to remember to care for one another and this is a way that you can turn a negative into a positive," Thesenga said.
Those who have fully recovered and have received a verified COVID-19 diagnosis can sign up to see if they're eligible to donate, here.
Additionally, the Red Cross is also in need of blood donations.