Civic consciousness in Kazan against Moscow’s ‘reward’ for anti-COVID-19 plasma

Where and how one can donate plasma in Tatarstan to save critical coronavirus patients

Civic consciousness in Kazan against Moscow’s ‘reward’ for anti-COVID-19 plasma
Photo: Maksim Platonov

Despite the development of new medicines, doctors recommend transfusion of plasma of blood of people who already recovered from the virus for critical patients as the only effective treatment for COVID-19. Now this can save a lot of lives when the epidemiological situation has suddenly worsened. As Realnoe Vremya learnt, the republic has people who want to help, but at the moment there are few points to select plasma. People who recovered from COVID-19 could donate blood only in Kazan and only in one place — the Republican Blood Centre, and now an office of the centre in Naberezhnye Chelny began to offer this service. Nevertheless, the amount of plasma prepared in the spring — about 246 doses — is obviously not enough considering the growth of new cases.

The only treatment for the virus

The programme of new treatment for COVID-19 with plasma was adopted in Tatarstan as early as in the middle of April. Three factors are indicators for the experimental treatment: the severity of the case, specifics of immunity, the long-term spread of the virus in the human organism.

“There isn’t random, very long research so far, as the infection has been spreading in Russia only since March. And all treatment methods existing today are approved in action, so to speak,” says Russian State Duma deputy, ex-Tatarstan Health Minister Ayrat Farrakhov. “Experience is accumulated, and of course, it isn’t the experience we need to say some treatment is compulsory. Research takes years, and today the situation is different. The method of blood transfusion from people who had COVID-19 is actively used in other countries, for instance, in the USA, England. It started to be widely used in Saint Petersburg and Moscow. I consider this method effective only if a doctor prescribes it in hospital. I decided to voluntarily donate plasma because I received such treatment when I had coronavirus and evaluated this method together with other treatment.”

“Now we can say that it is the only method that influences the virus itself because the other methods of treatment are just the reinforcement of the immune system, reduction of inflammation, a decrease of coagulation. And only plasma transfusion is a specific method of treatment. This method has been used in Tatarstan since spring,” claimed Director of Centre for Precision and Regenerative Medicine of Kazan Federal University Albert Rizvanov.

He noted that at a recent meeting of the Tatarstan Health Care Ministry specialists of the Republican Clinical Hospital, Urban Hospital No. 7 who used such plasma highly praised the effectiveness of this method and recommended increasing the amount of plasma as well as the number of procedure.

“This method is considered safe and effective especially for critical patients, in fact, it suits everybody. Unfortunately, not so many people agree to become donors today, in this respect it is necessary to work with the population,” thinks the scientist from Kazan Federal University.

246 doses of anti-COVID-19 plasma have been prepared in the republic nowadays. Surgeons and other doctors who had the disease became the first donors. Patients who recovered from the disease are tested for the virus, and if two tests in a row are negative, the potential donor’s antibodies are tested free two weeks after the second test.

Plasmapheresis differs from blood donation: blood is taken first, only plasma is removed from it, then erythrocytes and other blood cells return to the organism, doctors explain. So the procedure is more pleasant than blood donation. Moreover, if a person donates plasma for free, the test for antibodies will also be free. Moreover, KFU stores plasma that can be used to treat people.

Photo: kzn.ru

“Only a transfusion doctor can make the final decision to allow the potential donor. Plasma is donated in comfortable conditions, in a special armchair. The procedure takes no more than 40 minutes. It isn’t recommended to do physical exercise, smoke during the day, it is necessary to eat well and correctly,” health workers of the centre warn.

Plasma is donated in comfortable conditions, in a special armchair. Photo: Maksim Platonov

Motivation must be different

Patients who had coronavirus are paid 5,000 rubles for donating plasma in Moscow. Mayor of the capital Sergey Sobyanin signed a decree on this in spring. Plasma is donated in four establishments. Moreover, as Realnoe Vremya found out, two of the organisations pay even to donors from other cities, there is no restriction on the place of residence.

However, if you haven’t donated blood, you should do a blood test — the transfusion doctor will decide if you are ready for plasmapheresis. Moreover, a test for antibodies is needed — a person can have this data if he was in hospital. If he doesn’t have such a test, it can also be done for free in a Moscow polyclinic according to your place of residence or in a commercial lab.

Patients who had coronavirus are paid 5,000 rubles for donating plasma in Moscow. Mayor of the capital Sergey Sobyanin signed a decree on this in spring. Photo: mos.ru

To accept plasma, IgG and IgM must be equal or above 40 and 1,5 respectively. If IgG is 80 or more, in this case, IgM can be any, the capital’s blood centre explained. 2,500 rubles will be paid for 300 ml of plasma in Moscow, 5,000 rubles is the price for 600 ml.

The payment for blood donation in Tatarstan hasn’t increased. Realnoe Vremya’s correspondent asked Ayrat Farrakhov if the modest republican reward (around 500 rubles) for anti-COVID-19 plasma donation should increase. The deputy said that he refused the payment by sending it to a foundation for COVID-19 as well as the republic’s Sport Minister Vladimir Leonov who also donated blood on that day.

“The sum in Moscow is high because the living wage, the minimum wage, pensions are higher than in other regions. In fact, Tatarstan can’t increase this sum now, it isn’t the right time — the economic situation isn’t simple. To do this, it is necessary to cut costs somewhere, while the budget has already been adopted,” Ayrat Farrakhov is sure.

In his opinion, the motivation of Tatarstan citizens who had the disease must be different:

“We should probably urge everybody who has recovered to donate plasma if they don’t have counter-indications. We should help people who are fighting the disease now. I think we shouldn’t change today’s fixed value. In contrast, people can donate it for charity — but it is up to every person, of course, there shouldn’t be any persuasion here. People have always responded in Tatarstan actively if it is necessary to help those who are in a difficult situation. And it seems to me that there won’t be any problems with it: there will be enough people who will want to donate plasma after they recover,” thinks the State Duma’s deputy.

To get a day off don’t eat fatty, salty food and don’t drink alcohol

Blood can be donated once in 2 months, but no more than 5 times a year for men and no more than 4 times for women. Plasma can be donated once in 7-14 days depending on the amount of the blood’s component. Any healthy person from 18 years weighing more than 50 kg who is registered in Tatarstan or temporary registered for more than 6 months can become a donor. Russian registration is accepted only at Rosplasma, one can donate there only plasma, blood and thrombocytes aren’t accepted. The donor does a free check-up before transfusion. One must take the passport and insurance certificate, the military identity card is mandatory for militaries.

Blood can be donated once in 2 months, but no more than 5 times a year for men and no more than 4 times for women. Photo: Maksim Platonov

Blood can’t be donated after a night shift. One shouldn’t take painkillers and Aspirin that worsen blood clotting three days to the donation. It is necessary to stop consuming alcohol, fatty, spicy, salty, smoked foods, the dairy the day before blood transfusion. The donor can’t smoke an hour to donation. Light breakfast is recommended on the donation day. Before donating blood, the donor is offered to drink sweet tea with a biscuit to improve bloodstream and the donor’s state during the procedure and after.

Blood donation takes about 10 minutes (plasma — around 40 minutes). The donor is in a reclined state. Only disposable materials are used that are immediately disposed of. The transfusion doctor decides the dose individually, up to 40 ml of blood is additionally taken for a test. After donation ends, the sterile band shouldn’t be taken off for four hours.

The simplest way to help yourself if your head is spinning after the procedure is to lie and raise your feet above your head level or sit down and lower your head between your legs. It is necessary to avoid physical exercise on this day. There is no restriction on driving a car, though health workers recommend not doing this because of emotional excitement. One should eat well and drink at least two litres of liquid a day several days after blood donation.

By Yekaterina Ablayeva