COVID-19: Urgent plea for plasma as Sarasota hospital sees uptick in hospitalizations

Local News

SARASOTA COUNTY, Fla. (WFLA) — Amid an uptick in cases, a Sarasota hospital is treating more coronavirus patients and local blood banks are running dangerously low on what they need to treat them.

SunCoast Blood Centers is desperately seeking donations of convalescent plasma, citing a critically low supply.

“We only have seven units on our shelf right now. So, it’s not much. These are in great demand unfortunately and it continues to increase now,” said Scott Bush, CEO of SunCoast Blood Centers.

The center is looking for new donors, and people who have already donated plasma. To help, SunCoast is offering free COVID-19 antibody testing. If you have the antibody, you can donate plasma every 28 days.

“We’ve seen unfortunately an increase in demand the last couple of weeks for plasma. I actually got a text last night and this morning from other centers that cannot find it,” said Bush.

The demand comes as Sarasota Memorial Hospital is seeing an uptick in patients.

“Two weeks ago I was actually celebrating the fact that the COVID ICUs were empty. We had discharged our last patient. Unfortunately, now we have four patients on breathing machines in the intensive care unit,” said Dr. Kirk Voelker, a critical care specialist and director of clinical research for Sarasota Memorial Hospital.

Dr. Voelker has been on the front lines of the pandemic, caring for patients and says convalescent plasma is his go-to treatment.

“People have high fevers, their heart is racing, we give them the plasma and it calms things down. so we can see it calm down in just a few hours,” said Dr. Voelker.

To get an antibody test through SunCoast Blood Centers click here.

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