CHICAGO — With blood banks reporting an urgent need for plasma donations from individuals who’ve recovered from COVID-19, some of those who serve answered the call Sunday in Lincoln Park.
Chicago Police Department Sergeant Assata Olugbala spent weeks recovering from COVID-19, and now is hoping that the antibodies her body developed can be used to assist others in their fight.
“I could barely move, felt like 10 people were holding me down,” Olugbala said. “When my doctor said I could donate plasma and that it would help, I thought whatever I can do because this was a very painful experience.”
It was just a few weeks ago that the Chicago Medical Society formed a partnership with local blood banks to turn donated plasma from recovered COVID-19 patients into a potential treatment. So far, a dozen hospitals in the Chicago area have received the plasma.
“There’s no one left behind by this disease,” said Dr. Jay Chauhan, Chicago Medical Society. “The serum that we collect gets distributed locally and statewide.”
As research for new treatments and a vaccine against COVID-19 are underway, donated plasma is one of the few, best ways currently available for treating patients.
Congressman Danny Davis is among the many championing the program.
“It’s a matter of making use of what we scientifically know,” Davis said. “I believe it’s been proven, I think it’s effective, I think it will work and it does work for some people.”
Blood banks are also encouraging those who can to give blood and plasma, including those who have been healthy.
Holly Seese of Vitalant Blood Bank said they have a “critical, urgent need” for such donations.
“We went from no blood to too much blood and now we’re back to no blood again. We need people to heed this plea, come out and donate,” Seese said.
For Sgt. Olugbala and Lt. Davina Ward — both who’ve recovered — this is the right thing to do and the right time to do it.
“A lot of African-American people were dying and they need people like me, an African-American woman who’s recovered from COVID to donate plasma,” Ward said. “It doesn’t matter what race… if you’ve recovered you should be willing to save a life.”