Father of nurse who died with COVID-19 donates plasma eight times
Written by Rother Radio News on 03/10/2020
The father of a nurse has donated plasma eight times after she died with coronavirus.
Alan Mack’s daughter Rebecca was working on a children’s cancer unit and for NHS 111 when she became ill with COVID-19.
She called an ambulance and left the door open as her symptoms worsened – but passed away before it arrived.
Mr Mack and his wife Marion believe they caught the virus after driving her home from a midweek education course shortly before the lockdown in March.
As a COVID-19 survivor, Mr Mack has plasma that contains antibodies, which could be used to help others recover from the disease.
He is one of about 20 people in the UK who have donated eight times or more.
His plasma donations will be used by NHS Blood and Transplant to treat coronavirus patients as part of clinical trials that started in May.
The 62-year-old said he does not want anyone else to go through the same “terrible ordeal”.
“If I can help one person by donating my blood plasma, that’s more than enough,” he said.
He and his wife have set up a fundraiser in their daughter’s memory, raising money for a cancer charity at Great North Children’s Hospital in Newcastle.
Mrs Mack-Jouvenaz said: “She was selfless, fun and caring. Her death has devastated us but we want to make something positive out of this, because that is what Rebecca would have wanted.”
Her father plans to keep donating as long as the antibodies in his plasma are high enough.
Antibody levels in plasma vary from person to person, but tend to be higher among people who were sicker, declining over time.
People should aim to donate within six weeks after they recover from the virus – or they run the risk of their antibodies being too low to be usable.
A spokesperson for NHS Blood and Transplant told Sky News: “We want people in as soon as possible, but we also don’t want people to feel there is no point in coming forward if they were ill a while ago.
“We’d ask them to volunteer and we can check their antibody levels in a donation if they are called in.”
In response to a clinical trial in India that concluded plasma was not an effective treatment for COVID-19, NHS Blood and Transplant said: “This was a trial which used donations with antibody levels around six to 10 times lower than we are using.
“There is other promising evidence that convalescent plasma transfusions with high antibody levels could improve patient outcomes.”
The NHS has enough units of plasma to treat at least 3,000 people, and is appealing for more donations so that if the trials succeed, the treatment can be made widely available immediately.
There have been 20,000 plasma donations by COVID-19 survivors so far.
About 500 have received the treatment, and at least another 2,500 recipients are needed for the trials to conclude.
The NHS hopes to have preliminary results from the trials by the end of the year.
© Sky News 2020