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25 June 2020

Convalescent Plasma: A letter from Lorna

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Lorna McLintock is the Scottish National Blood Transfusion Service Clinical Lead for Blood Donation. Throughout the pandemic, she's been front and centre of the project to bring in new donors and new procedures to collect Convalescent Plasma, a potentially life-saving treatment for patients suffering the very worst effects of Covid-19. Here she reflects on the achievements of donors and staff - and the difference they are making across Scotland.

'It’s three months today since lockdown started, and two months since we collected our first Convalescent Plasma donation.

'Over this time, we have all had to cope with significant change at work and home, and each of us has a story about how Covid-19 has impacted on our lives.

'Despite the challenges we face at work and home, Scottish National Blood Transfusion Service staff have stepped up to implement the significant task of collecting Convalescent Plasma. This is a brand new procedure for us to carry out, and has needed a true team effort across the organisation, and when you stand back and look at it, it’s amazing how much we have accomplished in such a short space of time, not only bringing in entirely new working practices, but turning them into business as usual.

Lorna and family, pre Covid-19.

Some milestones as of 23rd June 2020:

  • The Scottish National Blood Transfusion Service has collected 310 units of Convalescent Plasma, through whole blood separation at donor centres, and plasmapheresis hospitals
  • We have more than 800 donors registered to donate Convalescent Plasma
  • We hope to be ready to issue Convalescent Plasma to hospitals for use in clinical trials on 30th June 
  • We will start collecting plasma by plasmapheresis in donor centres on Friday 26th June– the first time donor centres will have collected plasma since 1997
  • 75 patients have been treated in clinical trials in England.
For me, it’s about doing the best for the people and patients of Scotland. Lorna McLintock, Clinical Lead for Blood Donation

'Fortunately, the numbers of cases of Covid-19 and admissions to intensive care units are falling and I guess the questions on everyone’s mind is whether we will use the Convalescent Plasma we collect. I hope we don’t need to use it, as that will mean we have controlled Covid-19. However, if we have a second wave of Covid-19, we need to make sure we are as prepared as we possibly can be.

'Sometimes I think about why are we collecting Convalescent Plasma. I have a number of ideas.

  • It’s scientifically interesting
  • It’s a major event in world history and we can look back and say we made a huge contribution in the fight against Covid-19
  • But for me, it’s about doing the best for the people and patients of Scotland. If we have a second wave with clinical trials on going or if Convalescent Plasma becomes a standard treatment, I want the Scottish National Blood Transfusion Service to be able to meet the clinical demand to treat patients and contribute to fighting Covid-19 in Scotland.

'Thank you to all of our Convalescent Plasma donors – and thank you to all the staff who have worked so hard to make this happen.'

Lorna McLintock, Clinical Lead for Blood Donation

Current blood stock levels across Scotland Friday 10 July

We aim to retain 6 days of stocks at any time in order to meet the requirements of patients in Scotland.

Learn more about blood types