Ashford opens new donor centre for COVID-19 plasma trial

NHS Blood and Transplant has opened the doors of its new plasma donation centre in County Square Shopping Centre on Elwick Road in Ashford and has issued an urgent call to anyone who has had COVID-19 to register as a donor.

Plasma collected at the centre will be used in clinical trials to determine whether the antibody-rich blood plasma found in people who've had coronavirus – known as convalescent plasma – could be an effective treatment for COVID-19.

The plasma is transfused into patients who are struggling to develop their own immune response. The antibodies could slow or stop the virus spreading, which could save lives.

Around 120 people are already booked in to donate at the centre.

This plasma centre makes five in the South East, the other centres are already open in Arundel, Oxford, Southampton and Reading. Around 850 people have already received transfusions at hospitals in the region as part of the trials.

Donations are urgently needed so that if the trials confirm patient benefit, plasma can be made readily available for general use in the NHS. You can register online by searching 'donate plasma'.

Anna Turco, the donor centre manager, said: "We would love to see people in and around Ashford offering to donate so we can book them into donation appointments now. Donation is safe and easy, and you could save lives. Your body quickly replaces the antibodies afterwards."

Stacey Bell, Centre Director of County Square, commented "The plasma centre is a positive step in helping the NHS and our local community in the fight against coronavirus and we are proud to provide NHSBT with a new home to carry out their important work. We welcome local volunteers who have recovered from Covid 19 to donate their blood plasma, you may save lives".

Anyone over 17 who has had COVID-19 can offer to donate blood plasma donor. Donating is easy - it takes just 45 minutes and the whole appointment, including time for snacks, lasts approximately 1 hour and 15 minutes.

NHSBT especially needs more male and BAME donors to come forward as their plasma is more likely to contain the higher levels of antibodies required. People who needed hospital treatment are especially likely to have high antibody levels.

The Ashford donor centre is now one of a number centres around the country. By the end of this year, there will be 43 plasma donation points across England so that 80% of potential donors can reach one within 45 minutes.

With four other centres in the region, over 1000 people in the South East registered online as willing donors last week.

If you've had confirmed coronavirus or the symptoms, you can volunteer today to donate plasma at www.nhsbt.nhs.uk or simply search online for 'donate plasma'.

The Plasma Centre is located on the Lower Oval at the bottom of the escalators.

It can be reached by parking in either the blue or green NCP car park and walking through to the Lower Oval or by entering via the Tufton Street entrance, just off of Bank Street.

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