blood collection
© Springfield (MO) KYTV
The Federal Drug Administration is trying to come up with new ways to tackle the coronavirus pandemic. This week, the FDA made guideline changes to avoid a blood shortage. Now, it might have another possible treatment plan for COVID-19 patients.

Soon, a new kind of blood donor could be helping patients in the Ozarks.

"Once you've tested positive for COVID and then recovered you're plasma is going to have antibodies in it," said Anthony Roberts.

Roberts is the Executive Director at the Community Blood Center of the Ozarks. He said recovered coronavirus patients could help save lives with their plasma.

"The antibodies that are in that plasma help fight off the virus and then hopefully they get better," Roberts said.

The FDA's commissioner has said this treatment plan has worked with COVID-19 patients in other countries, and Roberts referred to a similar treatment during the ebola outbreaks.

"The thought behind it is, the more plasma we're able to collect, the more patients we're going to be able to help in our local hospitals," he said.

Roberts said the CBCO is working on training and procedures for those collections right now and hopes to be taking in coronavirus donors in about two weeks.

"They'll need to reach out to their caring physician, ask them, get the information and then the physician will be notifying us that they have a donor that's met all the FDA criteria," Roberts said.

Finding those plasma donors isn't the only concern.

"The need for blood never takes a holiday, it doesn't stop for a pandemic," said Chris Pilgrim, with the CBCO.

The Community Blood Center of the Ozarks, and the Red Cross have had to cancel most of their blood drives. That means thousands of regular donations won't be going to the patients who need them most.

"Trauma victims, pregnancies that go wrong, people with blood disorders that need blood on a regular basis," Pilgrim said.

Right now, CBCO has a three-day supply of of blood on hand, but Pilgrim said, that could change.

"I anticipate we may need blood again and may need to issue another appeal later on this month," Pilgrim said.

It's a concern that has experts raising the alarm in hopes of finding much-needed donations.

The FDA made changes this week to its guidelines to allow more people to donate across the country. For those who have possible exposure to HIV through sexual contact, they can now donate blood a three-month deferral period. Anyone who has recently gotten a tattoo or piercing can now also donate after three months. People who were in certain European countries or on military bases in Europe are now eligible to give blood.

Pilgrim said allowing more people to make life-saving savings donations is always a positive thing. He said it will take several weeks to implement the FDA changes.

For more on the FDA changes, click HERE.

Again, any former COVID-19 patients who want to donate must first contact their doctor, who will get in touch with the blood center.

For more explanation from the FDA about the plasma donated from coronavirus patients, click HERE