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News 8 reporter donates COVID-19 plasma after positive antibody test

News 8's Marissa Sulek donated her plasma after she learned her antibodies could expire.

DAVENPORT, Iowa — People who recover from COVID-19 can use their antibodies to help patients with the virus currently. News 8's Marissa Sulek, found out it's a quick process that can help up to ten people - it's all done by donating plasma.

For a first time plasma donor at CSL Plasma, there's a lot of initial paperwork.  But people willing to donate must show proof of a positive COVID-19 test or a positive COVID-19 antibody test. 

Sulek had COVID-19 symptoms back in March when testing was limited. So, she was never able to know for sure if she had the virus.

She says her positive antibody test confirmed her curiosity and gave her the opportunity to help another patients by donating plasma. It's a donation process that separates plasma (liquid portion) and red blood cells from the blood.

Sulek was told by nurses she was a rarity at the CSL Plasma Davenport location.

"That I've known on my shifts, I've seen three," says nurse Natalie Young, about the number of COVID donors.

"We've had 11 donors who are COVID recovered come through," says Greg Boden, center manager at CSL Plasma Davenport.

He says time is precious; antibodies have an expiration date.

"Your body doesn't need them anymore so they get rid of them," Boden explains. "We've had to remove two from the program because their antibodies have fallen less than what is required."

Depending on the donor sample, each bottle of plasma could be a golden opportunity for one or even 10 COVID-19 patients. The samples are frozen after each donation and shipped to a lab before heading to the hospitals.