WOKING residents who have recovered from COVID-19 for at least 28 days are being urged to donate blood plasma to help save the lives of others who catch the virus.

The antibody-rich plasma of people who have had the disease is being used in trials to see if it can be used as an effective treatment for the coronavirus. It is transfused into patients who are struggling to develop their own immune response. The antibodies could slow or stop the virus spreading.

More than 3,700 people in and around the borough have registered as donors with NHS Blood and Transplant, which is now conducting new trials for older people or those with cancer to treat them early in the course of the infection.

“Donations are vital to the ongoing lifesaving research, which gives us a better understanding of how we can best treat patients with COVID-19 and help prevent deaths in the future,” said Professor Dave Roberts, associate medical director for blood donation at NHSBT.

The News & Mail reported earlier this month that NHSBT has opened a donor centre in Duke’s Court in Woking town centre.

People can only donate 28 days after they’ve recovered, so the number of potential donors is now at the highest ever level following the national record number of cases over the New Year.

“We especially need donations from people in Woking who’ve had hospital care. Men who had hospital care are around six times more likely to have the high antibody levels which might save lives,” said Professor Roberts.

“More people than ever can help – the time to donate is now,” he added.

Donation is through a specialist plasmapheresis machine, which separates the plasma from the blood’s other components and then returns them to the donor’s body.

The plasma is bagged and sent for further safety checks before being distributed to participating hospitals. More than 850 patients have already received transfusions at hospitals in the region as part of the trials.

Donation takes about 45 minutes. The body quickly replaces the donated plasma and antibodies.  Men, black and Asian people, and people aged over 35, are more likely to have the high antibody levels needed for donation.

To register to donate, visit www.nhsbt.nhs.uk.