Vitalant, the nation’s largest independent blood service provider in partnership with St. John’s Regional Medical Center and St. John’s Pleasant Valley Hospital, Dignity Health —has collected its first “convalescent plasma” donation from a recovered COVID-19 patient. The collection took place Wednesday, April 8th at Vitalant’s Blood Donation Center in Ventura, CA.
The donor, Dwight Everett from Camarillo, CA believes he contracted COVID-19 on a recent cruise. His symptoms started on the ship with a headache although he did not attribute it to COVID-19 at the time. About a week and a half after returning home and having more symptoms, he was tested and was positive. One month ago, March 8th, his symptoms were gone. On March 14th he tested negative for COVID-19 and is feeling great now.
“It was an honor to meet Mr. Everett, and we can’t thank him enough for his life-transforming gift for patients in our community,” said Susan Noone, Regional Director for Vitalant. “We are privileged to partner with him and St. John’s to make this potentially life-saving product available. St. John’s was a natural partner given our national relationship with Dignity Health and the fact that St. John’s Pleasant Valley Hospital performed the first convalescent plasma procedure in Ventura County last week.”
When asked what he would say to encourage other potential donors, Mr. Everett enthusiastically said, “Do it!! It’s the right thing to do to help others!”
“We couldn’t agree more,” added Darren W. Lee, President and CEO of St. John’s Regional Medical Center and St. John’s Pleasant Valley Hospital. “Making this treatment available to our community and as many others as possible is the right thing to do. We are extremely blessed to have such excellent physicians, staff and people like Mr. Everett in our community who have enabled us to lead the fight against COVID-19 in Ventura County.”
“Individuals who have recovered from COVID-19 may have immune-boosting antibodies in their plasma; that plasma—called ‘convalescent plasma’—could be used to treat critically ill COVID-19 patients,” explained Dr. Lynn Jeffers, St. John’s Chief Medical Officer.
Vitalant is working with several of its hospital partners to qualify donors and collect convalescent plasma. Once donor eligibility is confirmed, Vitalant will work with those hospital partners to collect and process the plasma for treatment in patients with active, serious COVID-19 infections.
Vitalant will only accept donors who have recovered from COVID-19 after they have been evaluated and cleared by a physician. This ensures that only fully recovered individuals are donating.
To learn more about Vitalant’s efforts visit vitalant.org/COVIDfree.