05:31PM, Tuesday 23 February 2021
A teacher from Windsor is soon to become the most frequent blood plasma donor in the South East - and in the top five in England.
Since recovering from COVID-19 in March, Thomas Lange has donated plasma 24 times at centres in Oxford and Reading.
He is one of the thousands of people donating antibody rich plasma which might save the lives of other people with COVID-19.
Thomas, who works in Reading, said: “In the beginning it was just strong headaches and a temperature. By the end of the week it was very high temperature and increased breathing issues.
"An ambulance took me into a crowded COVID ward in Slough. I spent the day on oxygen and was sent home late evening with a partly collapsed lung. The next four days were the worst with severe breathing issues, delirium and high temperature."
As an existing blood donor, Thomas was asked if he wanted to donate convalescent plasma and found out that he had very high antibodies following his recovery and was keen to do whatever he could to help.
He added: “My grandma worked as a nurse and often volunteered for donation sessions. She said: “When you are 18, you can vote and give blood. Make sure that you do! I have never seen a machine like the one they use for plasma. They take the blood in stages, filter the plasma and return the blood. I didn't feel anything throughout.”
“I was hoping to donate on my anniversary, in March, but I have now reached the current maximum of 24 donations within 12 months. I look forward to my 25th donation in May – but must say I’m amazed that my antibody levels have remained strong for so long.”
NHS Blood and Transport is collecting plasma for new trials for older people or those with cancer, to treat them early in the course of the infection.
Antibodies can stop the virus spreading and causing organ damage.
Close to 3,000 donations have been taken at both donor centres so far.
Professor Dave Roberts, associate medical director for blood donation at NHSBT, said: “More people than ever are now able to help – the time to donate is now.
“We especially need donations from people in Reading who’ve had hospital care. Men who had hospital care are around six times more likely to have the high antibody levels which might save lives.”
Donations are being taken at NHSBT’s 23 blood donor centres and a further 20 pop-up plasma donor centres. Donation takes about 45 minutes. Your body quickly replaces the donated plasma and donated antibodies. All donations are tested for COVID antibodies. Men, black and Asian people, and people aged over 35, are more likely to have the high antibody levels needed for donation.
Nationally, more than 300,000 people have offered to donate and more than 60,000 donations have been taken.
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