Coronavirus in Florida: Plasma donations desperately needed as COVID-19 cases surge

MIRAMAR, Fla. – The rapid surge of coronavirus cases in South Florida has caused a growing demand for blood and plasma donations from people who have recovered from the virus.

Plasma has become one of the first lines of defense for treating patients.

Betsy Clarke's nephew, Eric Robinson, has been at Memorial Hospital Miramar for several days fighting COVID-19.

"It's been very stressful, very stressful," she said. "He's experiencing a lot of breathing problems, he's receiving oxygen but however he still, his breathing is still not at the level it should be."

Eric is 49 years old and a father of 2 little girls. He's a pastor and a supervisor at the Miami Rescue Mission, where he works with the homeless every single day.

He took every precaution, wearing a mask and a face shield while at work, but still, he got sick.

Now, his doctor's say they want him to receive plasma from someone who has already recovered from COVID 19, but supplies are low.

Susan Forbes works for One Blood, where they said in the past few weeks, they have seen a 500 percent increase in hospital orders for plasma, and they can't keep up.

“These are people’s lives are on the line and time is of the essence,” said Forbes. “These are very specific donors we are looking for. Only people who have recovered from the coronavirus can be potential convalescent plasma donors. They are the ones that hold the key to helping these patients recover.”

Eric's family, and many others, are now stuck waiting for plasma, hoping donors will step up and help save their loved ones' lives.

"We're just praying and hoping that he can get a donor soon so he can start feeling better and get discharged and come back home to his family," Betsy said.

Eric's wife and his two daughters, 5-year-old and an 8-year-old, all have COVID-19 as well, but haven't gotten as sick as he has.

Eric is looking for donors with O+ blood who have already recovered from the virus, and One Blood is asking for people of all blood types to consider donating.

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