Family Says Hospital Doesn't Have Ability to Accept COVID-19 Plasma Donation

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Families whose loved ones are in the hospital with COVID-19 are unable to visit them, but they are on the outside doing all they can to pull their family members through this virus.  

One hope lies with getting a plasma donation from someone who has already recovered. 

The family of Jose Chavez says his life story is an incredible one of courage. Now at 77, COVID-19 is really taking a toll on him, and, if he’s strong enough to take a plasma donation, they’d like to secure that as a way to save him.  

Chavez’s family says doctors told them her Jose is losing strength. Chavez has been at Palmetto General the last two weeks.  

“He tested positive for COVID-19, let's say, 20 days ago,” said Isabel Betancourt, Chavez’s granddaughter.

His family said two decades ago, Chavez's raft was adrift in the Atlantic Ocean on his journey from Cuba for days, not knowing if he would make it.

When told he had COVID-19, Jose responded, "The Communists didn’t kill me and this won’t either."

His determination is a reason why the family is looking at every option now — they’d like a blood plasma donation done to see if that works.

“We are trying to find a plasma donator because family and friends who have been talking to doctors, people who have been reaching out to us, they have been telling us that probably in his state right now that is the only hope to save him,” Betancourt said.

Jose’s granddaughter says they are looking everywhere.

“We are trying to reach people who have been in contact with the virus and you know passed the virus but we haven’t found anyone who can do the donation,” Betancourt said.

They are frustrated by what Palmetto General told them even if they found a donor.

“The hosptial said that’s not even a policy. Even if we find the donator, they are not going to be able to give it to him because the hospital doesn’t actually have the protocol to do it,” Betancourt said.

We asked One Blood, the group organizing plasma donations, what a family looking for one can do. Spokeswoman Susan Forbes said they have to work with their hospital and their physician to see if their family member qualifies to receive a COVID-19 convalescence plasma, and if they do, the hospital will reach out to One Blood.

Palmetto General’s spokeswoman Shelly Weiss sent a statement saying, "Palmetto General Hospital is not a blood donation center. Donation of blood and collecting plasma for this purpose is complex, and is best done by an approved blood donation center. People who have recovered from COVID-19, and meet the criteria to donate plasma to current critically ill patients, can contact their local blood donation center for additional information. Convalescent plasma therapy is available at hospitals under strict guidelines during the COVID-19 public health emergency, and it can be used as an investigational treatment option for critically ill patients who meet the stringent criteria for eligibility. Access to this therapy is regulated by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA), and we adhere to their recommendations.“

However, we asked the hospital again to address the allegations made by Chavez’s family and have not gotten a response. 

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