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Timberlea man is Nova Scotia’s first convalescent plasma donor

Donnie Clarke, who recovered from COVID-19,  was the first man to donate his convalescent plasma in Halifax, N.S.
Donnie Clarke, who recovered from COVID-19, was the first man to donate his convalescent plasma in Halifax, N.S. Submitted by Canadian Blood Services.

On Thursday morning Donnie Clarke became the first person to donate his convalescent plasma in Nova Scotia and the second individual in Atlantic Canada.

He is a part of a nation-wide clinical trial testing out the use of convalescent plasma to treat patients infected with COVID-19.

Convalescent plasma is plasma retrieved from donors who have previously recovered from a virus, in this case COVID-19.

A person develops antibodies as their body fights the virus. Those antibodies remain in their plasma after they recover from the virus, helping to shield them from future infections.

READ MORE: COVID-19 survivors’ blood could help others beat the disease, scientists hope

The trial, CONCOR, is conducted in partnership with Canadian Blood Services and 50 participating hospitals throughout the country.

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Peter MacDonald, Canadian Blood Services’ Atlantic director of donor relations said he is hopeful the trial will allow them to find a treatment for the virus.

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To complete the trial, CONCOR and Blood Services need to collect 1,200 samples across Canada. The criteria for eligibility is very specific.

N.B. man is first in Atlantic Canada to donate convalescent plasma
N.B. man is first in Atlantic Canada to donate convalescent plasma

A donor must be 67 years old or younger, have been previously confirmed positive for COVID-19 by a lab test, have fully recovered from the virus for at least 28 days, and the individual must live within driving distance of a donor centre.

The process of retrieving convalescent plasma is very simple, according to MacDonald.

“There’s a centrifuge at the bedside and through that, we are returning the red cells to you and only keeping the plasma.”

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Donating only takes around an hour.

READ MORE: New Brunswick man first to donate convalescent plasma in Atlantic Canada

MacDonald says the trial is still in very early stages and estimates around 25 samples have been collected so far.

He hopes that once potential donors know about the trial, clinics will be collecting around 40 sampels a week.

There are 14 Canadian Blood Services donor centres collecting convalescent plasma in the country, located in Vancouver, Calgary, Edmonton, Saskatoon, Regina, Winnipeg, London, Hamilton, Toronto, Ottawa, St. John’s, Charlottetown, Saint John and Halifax.

Earlier this week, Montreal conducted the first transfusion of COVID-19 antibodies to a patient. The results are still pending.

MacDonald says he encourages eligible Canadians to reach out to Canadian Blood Services or their local donation clinic.