NEWARK, NJ — April has been a grueling month for the loved ones of Newark resident Maria Da Silva.
On April 10, both Da Silva and her husband, Avelino, were admitted to Saint Barnabas Medical Center in Livingston after being diagnosed with pneumonia, and it was there that they tested positive for the coronavirus. But only Avelino would be discharged to recover from the comfort of their home.
Da Silva, now having exhausted concentrators, high flow oxygen, and two drug therapies, is what doctors call a “borderline” COVID-19 patient or someone who will need to be placed on a ventilator if their condition worsens. Her family is clinging to one more treatment option that they pray will restore Da Silva’s health.
“They’re at the point that the next step is the ventilator, but they feel she is a candidate for the plasma. So we’re basically starting the process,” said Monica Dos Santos, one of DaSilva’s daughters. “It’s not guaranteed, but it’s the only hope we have.”
Convalescent plasma therapy, used in previous outbreaks like MERS, Ebola and SARS-CoV, takes the plasma of recovered COVID-19 patients and infuses it into the sickest patients. Those who have survived the illness are thought to have antibodies in their plasma.
The blood donations are being done through New York Blood Bank and American Red Cross, and programs are given plasma from a pool of what’s donated. Since the therapy is still in the emergent phases as researchers collect data on outcomes, each unit of plasma must receive approval from the FDA before doctors can administer its potentially life-saving benefits to patients.
All in all, given the shortage of viable plasma, the process can take weeks before patients can receive an infusion. Dos Santos said donors often don’t even hear back from blood bank until a week after first reaching out and sending in the appropriate documentation.
“Our goal is to really raise awareness and capture the attention of someone that can expedite the process,” she said.
Da Silva’s family is asking for any COVID-19 survivors with an O+ blood type to please make a donation as soon as possible.
“We don’t want to be in a position to miss this opportunity,” Dos Santos said.
HOW YOU CAN HELP
If you're a COVID-19 survivor with a confirmed positive test on file and an O+ blood type, you can donate to one of the following blood banks to help the Da Silva family.
Requirements for Red Cross Donations
- Lab Confirmed positive COVID-19 test on file
- Currently NOT exhibiting symptoms
- Symptom-free 14 days
- Negative follow up COVID test
Requirements for NY Blood Center
- Lab confirmed COVID-19 test on file
- 28 days out of recovery or 14 days symptom-free