A Covid survivor has donated his blood plasma nine times amidst hopes the antibody-carrying liquid could help treat Covid patients.
Stephen Craib, who lives in Carshalton, was hospitalized with Covid-19 at the end of March.
A few months after his full recovery, Craib, 42, received a call from NHS Blood and Transplant (NHSBT) asking if he was willing to donate his plasma.
NHSBT is calling for people who have had Covid-19 to donate their plasma as there is some evidence that convalescent plasma (the antibody-rich plasma of someone who has recovered from coronavirus) could benefit Covid-19 patients who are struggling to develop their own immune response.
Donations will be used in trials to investigate the impact of the transfusions or reserved for future use should the trials prove patient benefit.
Craib, who works as manager at Royal Mail Twickenham, made his ninth donation on 1 October at the pop-up donor centre in the Twickenham Stoop.
This puts him in a group of less than ten people to have donated nine or more times across the country.
Craib said: “This is my part to give a little something back.
“The NHS has been brilliant over the years, they’ve fixed me more than I can remember.”
Craib’s next donation is on October 15.
He plans to continue donating his plasma until he develops complications or his antibody levels lower.
Sheila MacLennan, NHSBT transfusion consultant and Clinical Lead for the Convalescent Plasma Programme, said: “Our stocks are good but it will only stay that way if people keep donating.
“We especially need men to donate as they are more likely to have high enough antibody levels for the trial.
“We’re incredibly grateful to everyone donating and we thank Stephen or his donations – they could save lives.”
Craib, father of two, caught Covid-19 at the end of March.
His sister, Angie, who had insisted Craib stay with her while he was sick since he lives alone, eventually called 111 and an ambulance took Craib to St Helier Hospital where he stayed for eight days.
Craib’s temperature was over 40°C, his oxygen levels were down to 85%, and he was suffering from Covid-induced pneumonia.
He was put on oxygen and antibiotics, and given Nebulizers four times a day to keep his airways open.
Craib has had asthma since he was 28 which places him in the vulnerable category for the virus.
Craib said: “I didn’t think too much of it.
“I have a colleague at work who was in intensive care on a breathing apparatus.
“I was lucky not to have to have that.”
Now fully recovered, Craib has been donating his plasma every two weeks since the end of May.
Plasma is a yellow-ish liquid in the blood which carries red and white blood cells and platelets around the body.
After a virus, plasma carries antibodies which are used to help fight infections.
The plasma donation process takes about 45 minutes, with the whole visit, including the donation, health checks and snacks, taking around 1 hour 15 minutes.
In each donation, 560ml of plasma (the equivalent of a pint) is collected.
Once the plasma has been removed, it is separated from the red blood cells, which are then pumped back into the body.
The body replaces the plasma and antibodies within 24-48 hours.
If you have had confirmed coronavirus you can volunteer to donate plasma at www.nhsbt.nhs.uk.
Feature image credit: Stephen Craib