Urgent call for Covid-19 plasma donors as first donation centre in Reading opens

Healthcare bosses have issued an urgent plea for more donors to come forward as the first Covid-19 plasma donation centre opens in Reading.

The centre at Kennett Place on King's Road is the fourth centre to open in the South East, behind Chichester, Southampton and Oxford.

People who've previously tested positive for coronavirus but have now recovered are being asked to come forward.

Around 250 people have received covid-19 antibody plasma as part of the trial. Credit: PA

It's part of trial of a treatment called 'convalescent plasma', using the plasma containing Covid-19 antibodies to help patients who are struggling to generate their own immune response.

The centre's manager Donna Blofield said the process is "safe and easy."

"Your body quickly replaces the antibodies afterwards," she explained, adding that donations "could save lives."

Anyone over 17 who has had Covid-19 can donate, and the entire process takes just over an hour.

More than 200 hospitals across the UK are trialing convalescent blood plasma, the largest study in the world for this treatment

Around 50 people have signed up to donate in Reading so far, but NHS Blood and Transplant (NHSBT) want more people to come forward.

They are especially asking for more male and BAME donors to volunteer as their plasma is more likely to contain the higher levels of antibodies required.

People who needed hospital treatment are especially likely to have high antibody levels.

NHSBT says that more than 1000 people signed up online to donate plasma last week.

It hopes that with more centres opening, 80 per cent of donors will be able to reach a centre within 45 minutes.