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John Curtis. Image courtesy of NHS Blood and Transplant.

A RECOVERY trial participant has become the first person in England to receive convalescent plasma treatment and then donate convalescent plasma himself. Convalescent plasma is being tested as part of the RECOVERY trial to find out whether it is more effective in helping people recover than the usual standard of hospital care which all patients receive.

John Curtis, a taxi driver from Romford, may even pass on antibodies from his own donor, meaning the original transfusion reached two people. His antibodies could help save the lives of people who still have the illness.

John received his transfusion during six days of treatment in the Queen’s Hospital in Romford in August. He pledged to donate himself as soon as he was able.

John said ‘Making the decision to donate my plasma was easy. Receiving convalescent plasma whilst in hospital was painless and free of any side effects. I felt my condition began to improve as a result, and that I should donate my own plasma as soon as I was well enough to, in return. Then someone who is suffering from Covid19 and not producing enough antibodies naturally, would benefit from my donated antibodies.

‘I am surprised to be the first recipient donor albeit I am very happy to be able to take part in such an important programme. I think everyone who had COVID should be asked about donating during follow up care.

‘The plasma transfusion I had was like a bag of orange fluid, about half a litre. I had one unit a day for two days. I did speculate a bit about who donated but at the end of the day it’s another human being.’

Professor David Roberts, NHS Blood and Transplant Associate Medical Director for Blood Donation, said ‘People who’ve had convalescent plasma can donate convalescent plasma like anyone else. Their antibody levels may even be slightly higher if the original donor antibodies from their transfusion remain.

‘Although the original donor antibodies fall away gradually, some of the original donor antibodies to John will be passed on through the donation. Anyone who was in hospital for COVID is likely to make a great donor, as they have much higher antibody levels. Donation is safe and easy, and you could save lives.’

Men who needed hospital treatment for COVID are more than three times more likely to have high enough antibody levels than men who had the virus but did not need hospital treatment.

People can register online to offer to donate plasma. Donations are taken at NHS Blood and Transplant’s 23 blood donor centres around the country, and at five pop-up plasma donor centres. A further 14 pop-up plasma donor centres are opening in November and December.

Image courtesy of NHS Blood and Transplant.