The Badgers Give Back Blood Drive, scheduled for Oct. 27-29 from 11 a.m. to 6 p.m. at The Nick, 797 W. Dayton St., in Madison, is a chance for students to help those fighting COVID-19.

“We’ve had more than 3,000 confirmed positive COVID-19 cases on campus to date. It is large and unfortunate number, but I really see this as a chance to make a positive impact during a crazy time,” said Brody Andes, a sophomore at UW-Madison in charge of the blood drive.

All students able to give blood are encouraged to donate. Students experiencing COVID-19 symptoms or who are currently positive for COVID-19 cannot give blood. Students who have recently recovered from COVID-19 are especially encouraged to donate, as their blood could immediately help hospitalized COVID-19 patients.

A blood drive
The American Red Cross hosted a blood drive in the lobby of Union South on June 2. The upcoming Badgers Give Back Blood Drive is being held over three days at UW-Madison’s new recreational facility, next to the Kohl Center. Photo by Jeff Miller / UW-Madison

When people recover from COVID-19, their blood contains antibodies that their bodies produced to fight the coronavirus. Antibodies are found in plasma, a component of blood. Convalescent plasma is the antibody-rich component of blood that is extracted from a person who has recovered from COVID-19. That plasma can be administered to patients afflicted with the virus with the goal of alleviating their symptoms and shortening their hospital stay. UW Health and the UW School of Medicine and Public Health have played an important role in determining safety and potential efficacy of COVID-19 convalescent plasma.

William Hartman
William Hartman

“With Wisconsin being such a hotspot right now, much of the plasma from the blood drive will likely stay in the state, helping in the fight against COVID-19,” said William Hartman, MD, PhD, who runs the COVID-19 Convalescent Plasma Program. “Convalescent plasma is a powerful tool in treating COVID-19 patients, and we are proud of these students for stepping up and helping increase how much is available. The community is saving the community.”

As part of the National COVID-19 Convalescent Plasma Consortium, UW recently published a manuscript (not yet peer reviewed) describing the first set of data at our institution. The data shows that early intervention, within 2 days of admission, was associated with shorter hospital stays and a 94% chance of remaining out of the ICU and off of a ventilator, likely leading to more positive outcomes in hospitalized COVID-19 patients.

This blood drive is run through the American Red Cross and appointments are encouraged to allow for social distancing. To schedule an appointment, visit the Red Cross website and enter sponsor code “Badgers” in the top right corner of the webpage, or download the Red Cross Blood Donor app, click “Schedule New Appointment” and enter sponsor code “Badgers.”