Belinda Hodges of Hardin County could be found Wednesday afternoon inside a Kentucky Blood Center bus in Elizabethtown making a convalescent plasma donation.
Baptist Health Hardin and the Kentucky Blood Center currently are partnering to provide the opportunity for regional community members who have recovered from COVID-19 and meet criteria to donate plasma in a convenient location and help others through convalescent plasma therapy.
Hodges, a Bardstown High School employee, had COVID-19 in early August. Hodges said she and her husband were lucky to have only a mild case of the virus, experiencing loss of taste and smell, headache, a short fever, and fatigue.
In September, she tested positive for antibodies. At that time she checked into donating plasma, but didn’t really feel the call to donate.
“It just didn’t seem like it was as needed,” she said.
Hodges was once again inspired to look into donating plasma last month. Friends with Mayor Jeff Gregory on Facebook, she saw an article from The News-Enterprise he shared. The article shared Elizabethtown resident Doug Frederick’s COVID-19 story and how convalescent plasma treatment was essential to his recovery.
“When I saw the article I thought, well, I’m going to try again,” she said. “It makes you feel really good that you can do something like this.”
Convalescent plasma treatments use plasma from recovered COVID patients to help those sick with the virus.
Hodges, who has made blood donations in the past, said a plasma donation doesn’t feel any different.
“Ideally, you won’t be able to tell,” said A.C. Mullins, Kentucky Blood Center team supervisor. During a plasma donation, the plasma is extracted while everything else from the blood volume is returned to the donor.
A traditional blood donation takes about 15 minutes while a plasma donation can take up to 90 minutes.
According to Mullins, they had five scheduled donation appointments Wednesday. He touted the donors who are willing to go through the screening process and time to donate plasma, calling them “gold.”
For information on how to donate, people can go to hmh.net/plasma.
Hodges said she’s been challenging others to donate convalescent plasma. By making donation, donors have an opportunity to help up to four people.
“The need is great,” Mullins said.
At Baptist Health Hardin, Drs. Natalie Harper, Ben Cundiff and Gwen Godfrey began researching convalescent plasma and its benefits to COVID-19 patients in the spring and shortly thereafter started administering the treatment to hospitalized patients.