San Antonio doctor encourages recovered COVID-19 patients to donate plasma

August 5, 2020
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Dr. Jairo Melo, one of San Antonio’s biggest proponents of convalescent plasma treatments, has a simple message for anyone who has recovered from COVID-19. 

“I encourage everybody – everybody – who has recovered to donate,” the Medical Director for Pulmonary and Critical Care with Methodist Hospital told The Blood & Tissue Center Foundation board at their online meeting Monday. 

Dr. Melo has advocated for giving plasma from recovered patients to those hospitalized with COVID-19 since the early days of the pandemic. But he is seeing a trend as reported cases and the number of critically ill patients rise. 

“The sicker people are, the more grateful they are – and those are the people who are donating,” he said, adding that those recovered patients’ families also tend to become regular plasma donors. 

“The large number of people who don’t get admitted to the hospital don’t donate as much. We need them to give, too.” 

He said a recent report that COVID-19 convalescent plasma is moving from being administered as a clinical trial to a standard of care for doctors – after more than 100,000 transfusions – has him encouraged. 

He emphaized that anyone who has recovered needs to see if they can donate plasma. Potential donors can send an email to COVID19@SouthTexasBlood.org to set up an appointment for initial testing. 

“COVID isn’t going anywhere,” he said. “If I see a patient with COVID, I want to give them convalescent plasma. It’s accepted by doctors as one of the few things we have to offer, so we need to focus on that.”