Can I Donate Plasma After Having Covid-19?


Matthew McClain

Plasma donated by those who have recovered from COVID-19 (called COVID-19 convalescent plasma, or CCP) may help patients fighting COVID-19. This is because your body has developed antibodies against the virus. Historically, convalescent plasma has been successfully used to treat similar diseases such as the Spanish Flu, SARS, MERS, and H1N1.

So, you can donate plasma after having covid-19 if you meet the criteria.

What is plasma donation and how can it help people with COVID-19?

Plasma donation involves giving the liquid portion of your blood that contains antibodies and proteins. When you recover from an infection like COVID-19, your body develops antibodies that fight the virus. These antibodies remain in your plasma even after you’ve recovered.

Convalescent plasma donation is when people who have recovered from COVID-19 donate their plasma, which contains antibodies that may help actively infected patients fight the virus.

The antibodies in convalescent plasma can be transfused to COVID-19 patients to help boost their immune response. Several studies suggest that convalescent plasma therapy may improve the condition of patients with serious COVID-19 cases, especially if given early in the course of the disease.

The demand for convalescent plasma has been high due to the COVID-19 pandemic since it represents a potential treatment option while vaccines are being developed and tested. Donated plasma is being used to treat current COVID-19 patients as well as for research purposes.

Eligibility For Plasma Donation After Recovering From COVID-19

After recovering from COVID-19, you can be eligible to donate convalescent plasma if you meet the following criteria:

  • You must have had a positive diagnostic test for COVID-19. This can be a PCR or antigen test. Having COVID-19 antibodies is not enough – you need a positive test result.
  • You have complete resolution of symptoms for at least 14 days before donating. This ensures the virus is no longer active in your system and you have fully recovered. Some facilities require 28 symptom-free days.
  • You meet regular blood donation eligibility. This includes being healthy overall, between certain ages (typically 18 – 64), weighing at least 110 pounds, and not identifying as high risk for infections like HIV or hepatitis.
  • You have lab-confirmed COVID-19 with a molecular or antigen test no longer than 6 months ago. Your antibodies against the virus will still be present for several months after infection.
  • Ideally, you were never hospitalized for your COVID-19 infection. Hospitalization may impact your antibody levels. However, most donation programs will still accept recovered hospitalized donors.

To donate convalescent plasma you must have verifiable evidence of a past COVID-19 infection, be completely recovered from symptoms for at least 2 weeks, and meet standard blood donation health criteria. Donors are screened rigorously to ensure the plasma is safe and high quality for recipients.

The Process of Convalescent Plasma Donation

The process of donating convalescent plasma to help COVID-19 patients is relatively simple and similar to regular plasma donation. If you are eligible after recovering from COVID-19, here are the typical steps to donating convalescent plasma:

  • You will be screened. Facility staff will verify your COVID-19 test results and ensure you have been symptom-free for at least two weeks. They will also check your health, blood pressure, and pulse.
  • You will complete a health history questionnaire. This form asks about any medications you take, allergies you have, and your general medical history to determine your eligibility and safety for donation.
  • A needle will be inserted into one of your veins. This is typically done in your arm but can also be done in your hand. The needle is attached to tubing that leads to the apheresis machine.
  • Your blood will pass through the apheresis machine. The machine isolates and collects your plasma while returning your red and white blood cells and other components back to you.
  • The plasma donation typically takes around 30 to 60 minutes. The time varies based on your plasma volume and the amount needed. Some facilities collect up to 800 mL of convalescent plasma.
  • After donation, the needle is removed from your vein and a bandage is applied. You will be monitored for about 15 minutes to ensure you feel well before leaving.
  • Your convalescent plasma is transported to hospitals and research centers where it can be transfused to COVID-19 patients and further studied.

Benefits of Donating Convalescent Plasma

If you have recovered from COVID-19, donating your convalescent plasma has several important benefits for both individuals and society as a whole:

Helping COVID-19 Patients

The most direct benefit is that your convalescent plasma donation can help critically ill COVID-19 patients fight their infection. The antibodies in your plasma are transferred to patients to boost their immune response and improve clinical outcomes. Donations have been crucial as hospitals face plasma shortages.

Contributing to Research

Your plasma donation can be used in clinical studies and trials researching potential COVID-19 treatments. Researchers are analyzing convalescent plasma to determine which antibody types work best, the proper dosage for patients, and which patient groups benefit most. Your donation contributes valuable data to the scientific community.

Fulfilling Urgent Need

As COVID-19 continues to spread globally, the need for convalescent plasma remains high. Hospitalizations and deaths have risen significantly during the pandemic, creating an urgent demand for plasma treatments. Your donation helps meet this critical need to save lives.

Potential Compensation

Some plasma donation centers offer compensation for donors, thanking you monetarily for your lifesaving gift. While not the primary motivation, the compensation can help offset costs like travel and time associated with donation.

Altruistic Reward

Many people report feeling a sense of altruism and purpose from donating convalescent plasma. By sharing the antibodies you’ve developed, you have the opportunity to directly assist those still suffering from COVID-19. The knowledge that your donation could save lives brings many donors psychological and emotional benefits.

Eligibility for Convalescent Plasma Donation After COVID-19 Vaccination

If you received a COVID-19 vaccine after being diagnosed with COVID-19, you may still qualify to donate convalescent plasma – the plasma rich in antibodies from your illness. Here are the main things to know about eligibility after vaccination:

  1. You remain eligible to donate. Both the CDC and FDA state that receiving a COVID-19 vaccine does not impact your ability to donate convalescent plasma. The antibodies from your natural infection and your vaccine antibodies serve different purposes.
  2. You must wait at least 14 days after full vaccination. All plasma donation centers require donors to wait 2 weeks following their final vaccine dose before donating. This is to ensure your vaccine side effects have fully resolved and the vaccine antibodies have stabilized.
  3. Typically the wait time is 14 days after the second shot for two-dose vaccines (Pfizer, Moderna) or 14 days after the single dose vaccine (Johnson & Johnson). Some centers require 28 days of waiting.
  4. You must be within 6 months of COVID-19 symptom resolution. Donated convalescent plasma is believed to contain effective antibodies for about 6 months after infection. So most donation programs set a maximum 6 month window from symptom resolution to donation.

For example: If you had COVID-19 in November 2020 and received two vaccine doses in February 2021, you would likely be eligible to donate convalescent plasma as long as it is before May 2021 – 6 months after your illness.

You will be re-screened for eligibility. Even if you have donated plasma previously after your COVID-19 illness, you will need to complete the full donor screening again after vaccination to ensure you remain eligible and healthy for donation.

In summary, if you were infected with COVID-19 and later received a COVID-19 vaccine, you may still qualify to donate your convalescent plasma as long as you meet the other eligibility requirements and wait at least 2 weeks after full vaccination. Your antibodies from natural infection remain effective and in high demand to help critically ill patients.


1. Can recovering COVID patients donate blood?

While you cannot donate whole blood for several weeks after a COVID-19 infection, you may be eligible to donate your convalescent plasma which contains antibodies to help other patients. Plasma donation has distinct eligibility requirements compared to regular blood donation.

2. How long after having COVID can I donate plasma?

Most facilities require donors to be symptom-free for at least 14 days before donating convalescent plasma. Some require up to 28 days to ensure you’ve fully recovered and the virus is no longer active in your system. The typical recommendation is 14 to 28 days after resolution of all COVID-19 symptoms.

3. How does donating convalescent plasma help?

The antibodies in your convalescent plasma can help critically ill COVID-19 patients fight their infection. When transfused into patients, your antibodies can boost their immune response and potentially reduce the severity of their symptoms. Donations are also used for research into new COVID-19 treatments.

4. How many times can I donate plasma after having COVID?

You can typically donate convalescent plasma every 28 days up to a total of 3 to 4 times. Your body takes about 4 to 6 weeks to replenish the plasma volume removed during donation. Most programs set a maximum of 3 to 4 donations within 6 months of your COVID-19 illness.

5. Will donating plasma weaken my immunity?

No, donating your plasma does not impact your body’s ability to produce antibodies or weaken your immunity to COVID-19. Your plasma volume is quickly replenished, and only a small portion of your plasma antibodies are removed during each donation.

6. What are the side effects of plasma donation?

Side effects after donating convalescent plasma are generally minor and temporary. They may include bruising, bleeding or feeling faint at the needle site. Rare but possible side effects include nausea, dizziness, metallic taste and headache. However, most donors feel fine shortly after donation.

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