South Carolina running low on supply of blood plasma treatment for COVID-19 patients

South Carolina running low on supply of blood plasma treatment for COVID-19 patients
South Carolina running low on supply of blood plasma treatment for COVID-19 patients (Source: Jason Raven)

KERSHAW COUNTY, S.C. (WIS) - Lauren Rimpf said she is making plans to donate some of her blood plasma again.

"I just want to be proactive in helping any way that I can," she said.

Earlier this year, Rimpf went to the hospital for what she thought was a sinus infection. Her doctor tested her for the flu and gave her some antibiotics for the sinus infection.

Rimpf said a few days later she lost her sense of smell and taste. She said she felt sick for about 10 days. After that she was fine. Recently, Rimpf tested positive after taking a COVID-19 antibody test.

She said when she found out about her positive result she began reaching out to friends who had donated their plasma to help hospitalized COVID-19 patients. "We talk about helping our neighbors and ways to make an impact. This is just an easy way to do that."

Right now, there are more than 1,000 people hospitalized with COVID-19 in South Carolina. According to The Blood Connection, the recent uptick in hospitalizations has nearly wiped out their stockpile of convalescent plasma.

Doctors said this is one of the most promising treatments available.

According to Medical Director Dr. Robert Rainer, the demand for the plasma has tripled. “In the last probably, week and a half, there’s been a little bit of a surge.”

Dr. Rainer said if they don’t get more plasma doctors will have to be very selective with who they give the plasma transfusions too. “We had some reserves of about 150-200 units and ran through those pretty quickly,” he said.

Dr. Edwin Hayes with Prisma Health said the sooner they can treat COVID-19 patients, the more likely they can recover. He said they were able to get plasma for a patient within a day, now it takes two days or longer.

"Those delays could mean the difference between whether or not someone lives or dies," Dr. Hayes said.

Rimpf said seeing the number of reported cases in the state increasing on a daily basis worries her. But she also believes this will give South Carolinians a chance to step up. "It presents an opportunity for those who recover to donate plasma to save lives."

For more information on how to donate visit The Blood Connection’s website.

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