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'I'm hoping I can help': Recovered Covid-19 doctor joins major new trial to beat virus

A doctor who has recovered from coronavirus is now joining a blood donation programme as part of a major nationwide clinical trial to battle the outbreak.

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Dr Zahid Safraz

Dr Zahid Safraz, who works at Sandwell Hospital, fought back against the virus and says he now wants to play his part in helping the UK's future effort and understanding.

He has donated his antibody rich plasma – which can be given to people who are struggling to develop an immune response to overcome the disease.

NHS Blood and Transplant is now leading a major new programme, on behalf of the Government, to collect convalescent plasma from people who have recovered from Covid-19 to support a national clinical trial.

The trial will investigate whether plasma transfusions could improve a coronavirus patient's speed of recovery and chances of survival.

In parallel to the trial, NHS Blood and Transplant is rapidly building up capacity to collect plasma so that it can deliver at a large scale, if transfusions are shown to help patients.

Dr Safraz, aged 29, from West Bromwich, said: "Everybody has been playing their part and I am hoping that by donating plasma I can help too.

"It’s wonderful to come in and easy to donate.

“I did feel some fear when I was ill. I had aches and headaches and later became breathless. I had a positive test.

"Now I am back in work I see Covid-19 patients in my work, from the mild to the very ill.”

Also donating in the West Midlands was Natalie Stretton, also 29, from Castle Bromwich.

Natalie Stretton

She said: "I became ill in January. I feels quite nice to be able to help people.

"I got a call from the NHS and they checked to make sure I met the general donor eligibility.

“Hopefully I will help someone is seriously ill in their time of need.”

Convalescent plasma is plasma from people who have recovered from an infection. Recovered patients' plasma may contain antibodies that their immune systems have produced in fighting the virus. The plasma can be transfused to patients whose immune systems are struggling to develop their own antibodies.

The trials will investigate whether transfusions may improve a patient's speed of recovery – and chances of survival. Plasma can also be collected and frozen ahead of any second wave of Covid-19.

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Although there is some evidence of patient benefit from the use of convalescent plasma, the safety and effectiveness of convalescent plasma transfusions needs to be confirmed by a robust clinical trial.

An NHS Blood and Transplant spokesman added: “This trial is world-leading research and these people are leading the way. Plasma donation is safe and easy and you could help save the lives of others with coronavirus.

"We recognise some donors will have had a difficult experience and we will make everyone feel cared for and welcome. If you get the call, please donate.”

  • If people have a confirmed positive Covid-19 test result and they are willing to donate, they can provide details on the NHS Blood and Transplant website