MANILA - The Philippine Red Cross will begin its donation drive for convalescent plasma from COVID-19 patients on Monday, its officials said Sunday.
Patients who have recovered from the illness and have sufficient neutralizing antibodies are urged to call the non-government organization's hotline at 143 or 09175820499 to donate blood plasma, according to its chairman, Sen. Richard Gordon.
They must be 18 to 65 years old, and will undergo physical and medical examination, said Dr. Monina Nalupta, director of the Red Cross' National Blood Services.
"May additional tests, like aalamin po natin ang kanilang COVID-19 antibody levels kung saan dapat itong maging therapeutic para sa pasyenteng masasalinan," Nalupta told ABS-CBN's TeleRadyo.
(There are additional tests like we will look into their COVID-19 antibody levels, which should be therapeutic for patients who will receive it.)
"Hindi po lahat ng ating COVID-19 patients magkaka-qualify, para masiguradong gagaling po from the antibodies na maita-transfuse sa'ting mga pasyente."
(Not all COVID-19 patients will qualify, so we can ensure that those with the illness will recover through the use of antibodies.)
The Red Cross began its donation initiative by getting blood plasma from frontliners who contracted the disease, Nalupta said.
It expects up to 20 donations per day, she added.
"Malaking bagay yan sa mga taong umaasa. Hope is talagang important," Gordon said. "'Yan ang mahalaga dyan, isa sa armas natin sa COVID."
(It's a big help for those who are hoping to recover. Hope is really important. What's important is we have ammunition against COVID-19.)
The World Health Organization earlier said plasma transfusion can serve as a boost to the patient’s immunity.
An interim guidance document released by the WHO in March noted that convalescent plasma or plasma from a recovered patient “may be a potentially useful treatment for COVID-19." However, it also warned of the need to run a detailed risk assessment to ensure the safety of the process.
The Philippine General Hospital and St. Luke's Hospital have already started their respective convalescent plasma program for COVID-19 patients.
The Philippines as of Saturday logged 54,222 coronavirus cases, of whom 1,372 have died while 14,037 have recovered.