By Jill Fox
Now more than ever, plasma donations are needed — and not just for treating patients with COVID-19.
Located minutes from Tamarac, CSL Plasma in Margate is helping people live healthier lives.
Center Manager Christina Kokoszka wants the public to understand precisely what plasma donation can do.
“People with autoimmune diseases rely on these medications to live normal lives,” she said.
Headquartered in South Florida, CSL Plasma is one of the world’s largest human plasma collectors, helping tens of thousands of people in more than 60 countries.
Unlike other centers, which sell off their plasma donations to research companies, CSL Plasma’s parent company, CSL Behring, produces the therapies. They treat bleeding disorders like hemophilia, primary immune deficiencies, respiratory disease, cardiac surgery, organ transplants, and even help burn victims.
“Our company actually does the research and creates those therapies,” said Kokoszka.
An added benefit is plasma donors are compensated for their time and contributions. They receive a pre-paid debit card and can earn up to $500 a month, depending on the type of antibodies they have.
The process is pretty simple. No appointments — it’s on a walk-in basis. Visitors come in to donate, create a profile, and go through a health history process. Next, they go over the procedure and have a short physical with a nurse to determine their plasma donation eligibility. The actual process takes 30 to 90 minutes, depending on how many cycles the individual receives.
In one cycle, the machine takes the donor’s blood, which is separated into red blood cells and plasma, the plasma is collected, and the red blood cells are returned to the body. The blood and plasma are maintained in a sterile environment at all times.
A person’s weight determines how much he or she can donate. The machine goes through four to six cycles, and the person receives saline to replenish some of those fluids.
“It’s very similar to donating blood, but you receive your red blood cells back, so you’re able to donate more frequently,” said Kokoszka.
For anyone wondering, the process is entirely safe.
CSL Plasma adheres to FDA regulations, among others, and now with COVID-19, they have more precautions in place, like increasing sanitization with disinfecting procedures and requiring masks.
The center has taken protective measures to ensure its safety, including enhanced disinfecting protocols, temperature checks, and practicing social distancing throughout the donation process.
Donating plasma or donating after having COVID-19 uses the same processes. The center just utilizes the plasma in a different way based upon the antibodies the body contains.
Those individuals who have recovered from COVID-19 can participate in a COVID donation program, where their antibodies are used to make hyper-immune therapies to treat people with active COVID infections and those at high risk for serious complications.
It is important to note that patients must be fully recovered from COVID-19 to donate their plasma. Donors need to show proof of a positive COVID-19 test or a positive antibody test and have had no active symptoms for 14 days.
A COVID-19 antibody donor receives up to $100 per donation and can donate twice a week per FDA guidelines.
So, who’s the ideal candidate for donating plasma?
Anyone in good health interested in helping save lives can give it a shot. Donors must be between 18 and 65-years-old and weigh at least 110 pounds. Anyone with a tattoo or piercing less than four months old is not eligible to donate.
A short medical history upon entry will ultimately determine eligibility.
Anyone interested should bring a valid ID and proof of a social security number and a permanent address.
Having been with CSL Plasma for seven years, Kokoszka said she enjoys it when she meets patients and learns how their lives have been impacted.
“When they have immune deficiencies where their body can’t fight off infection, hearing how now they can go to the grocery store or go to school is really impactful,” she said, “Considering how through these therapies, they’re able to live normal healthy functioning lives.”
CSL Plasma is located at 1406 N. State Rd. 7 in Margate. Hours are Monday through Friday from 6:30 a.m. to 7 p.m. and Saturday and Sunday from 6 a.m. to 5 p.m.
To find out more, visit CSLPlasma.com. Visit CSL Plasma in Margate and mention the secret code, “I am a lifesaver” to receive an additional $20 after your first donation.
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- Jill Fox is an Emmy Award-winning writer and producer. She is currently a Senior Account Director at Lon Haber & Co. Fox worked at NBC Miami for eight years after graduating from the University of Miami. She lives in Parkland with her husband, Brian and two children.