Woman pushes for more plasma programs after mother dies of COVID-19

News

EDINBURG, Texas — A Brownsville woman is speaking out after her mother died in a hospital waiting for plasma treatment, which doctors say could have helped.

Linda Macias, says her mother, 46-year-old Maria Herlinda Olvera, died after spending eight days in a hospital.

Macias says the hospital had her mother on a waiting list for plasma from recovered COVID-19 patients, but the plasma did not arrive on time.

Dr. Sohail Rao with Doctors Hospital at Renaissance’s Institute of Research and Development says the antibodies in the plasma from recovered patients can be therapeutic and transfused into patients fighting the virus.

Currently, DHR’s partnership with Vitalant Blood Banks of the RGV is the only convalescent plasma program in the Rio Grande Valley, where recovered COVID-19 patients can donate plasma.

After her mother’s death, Macias says many reached out to her in a similar situation. She then decided to advocate for more plasma programs, drives, advocacy and awareness of the virus.

Macias adds that some who reached out to her said they never received a call back to donate, or they did not know where they could go to donate.

“We need more drives, and we need to be a little bit more organized with this program. I understand that the demand is high. I understand that they are supplying to so many cities across Cameron County and Hidalgo, but at the same time, there is a sense of urgency because lives are at stake,” Macias said.

Officials say there is a huge need for the plasma from recovered patients, with many still waiting in hospitals for the treatment.

DHR recently held a drive in Brownsville in its mobile clinic, but Macias says one drive for the month of July for the city of Brownsville is not enough.

She says with the manpower and resources more can be done. The community must also respond by showing up to donate so that officials will see a need for more programs and drives in the community.

Officials say there are other plasma centers collecting from recovered COVID-19 patients but they are unsure where that plasma goes.

Because plasma is experimental, officials say there must be a coordinating institution to organize the administration of the plasma and collect data.

Officials also encourage asking where the plasma will be used before donating.

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