Brad Bryan

Houchin CEO Brad Bryan speaks during a Thursday press conference

Kern County officials are calling on those who have recovered from COVID-19 to donate plasma in a new effort aimed at saving lives of those hospitalized with the virus.

At a Thursday news conference, local officials said hospitals' requests for convalescent plasma fall short by around 20 to 30 units each day. The plasma, rich in antibodies, has shown promising results in scientific studies of aiding those impacted the hardest by the coronavirus.

However, Kern County isn't meeting the demand, and patients suffering from COVID-19 have been left without the potentially lifesaving fluid. Of the 18,411 positive cases reported by the Public Health Services Department as of Thursday morning, only about 130 people have visited Houchin Community Blood Bank to make plasma donations.

Officials hope that by increasing the number of those donations, hospitalization times of those who have contracted the virus can be reduced and lives can be saved.

“You have a weapon inside your body and that weapon is something that can save the lives of individuals that are suffering right now,” said Houchin CEO Dr. Brad Bryan, addressing those who have recovered from COVID-19. “If you’re sitting at home and you’re wondering what you can do to help people and you’ve been through COVID-19, you’ve been through this, this is something you can do.”

He added that interested people can call Houchin at 616-2504. Individuals will need to show proof of a positive test or of a positive antibody test. Houchin is the only facility in Kern County equipped to handle plasma donations.

Defined as the liquid part of blood, convalescent plasma therapy is an experimental treatment that's shown promise for helping COVID-19 treatment. Each convalescent plasma donation can benefit three to four people, with studies showing diminished mortality and shorter hospitalization times from those who have received the plasma.

In recent weeks, hospitals have become overwhelmed with patients suffering from coronavirus, with projections showing hospitalizations will likely increase over the next few months. Hoping to respond to the surge and reduce deaths, Kern County has started actively recruiting those who have suffered from COVID-19 for plasma donation.

The effort is the first to actively target coronavirus patients for donations locally. Through the county health department’s contact tracing program, the county is encouraging such donations. On Monday, a separate group of Kern County employees will begin calling coronavirus patients to request the donations over the phone.

“We cannot force people to donate blood,” county Chief Administrative Officer Ryan Alsop said during the meeting. “What we can do is to put a significant effort into convincing people that it’s the right thing to do. They are needed. The community is calling on them to come forward and assist.”

The county will also contribute $500,000 to a six-month advertising campaign designed to promote public health practices like washing hands and wearing a mask. Included in that messaging will be requests for convalescent plasma donations.

While the advertising campaign will be primarily funded by the county and the city of Bakersfield, the local medical community will lead the effort.

You can reach Sam Morgen at 661-395-7415. You may also follow him on Twitter @smorgenTBC.

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(7) comments


C'mon, Gavin . . . step up to the plate and do another ' executive order' so those anti-body plasma holdouts are required to ante-up their life's blood.

Oh Well, perhaps some other incentive avoiding 'Newsom's needles' is in order here beyond free ice cream. Ya gotta be 'meds-free' to donate, but the docs know who you are and should encourage more as we approach that vaccine.

Mighta had that 'cure' quicker if protests and other 'maskings' had not compromised the normal course of this (so-called) pandemic. Also wonder about those attributed 'passings' of folks . . . well . . . you know the drill . . .

Masked 2020

Are County officials scamming us all?...... No Evidence That Doctor Group in Viral Video Got Near COVID 'Front Lines' — Who are the physicians behind America's Frontline Doctors? Dan Erickson, DO Erickson is the co-owner of Accelerated Urgent Care in Bakersfield, California. He is a former emergency physician, according to reports, who was featured on national television in late April after he claimed data his center had collected showed that COVID was more widespread and less harmful than reported in medical journals. The American College of Emergency Physicians and American Academy of Emergency Medicine issued a joint statement condemning Erickson's claims, calling them "reckless and untested musings" that are "inconsistent with current science and epidemiology regarding COVID-19." Erickson could not be reached for comment Tuesday afternoon. He is affiliated with Adventist Health Bakersfield, according to a report. Adventist Bakersfield did not return a call Tuesday. insta gram...artin_massihi_Accelerated Urgent Carehoto with artin_massihi With house minority leader Kevin McCarthy, Dr Dan Erickson and Angela Barton. #tbt #supporting our Veteran Warriors #Accelerated Urgent Care Kern County Chief Administrative Officer Ryan Alsop refers ... Kern County Chief Administrative Officer Ryan Alsop refers to Dr. Dan Erickson as "courageous" Kern County Health Department is holding an update on the county's response to the COVID-19 outbreak ... Social media platforms removed the video because it contains several claims that run counter to official recommendations from public health officials. But who are the doctors who made them? PolitiFact investigated. The physicians in the video are associated with a group called America’s Frontline Doctors, which advocates against official narratives of the coronavirus pandemic. The group, whose now-defunct website was registered on July 16, was in Washington for a "White Coat Summit," after which some of the doctors met with Vice President Mike Pence.

Masked 2020

Convalescent plasma's most famous use was during the 1918 flu pandemic.


Perhaps if they recived just a fraction of what the blood bank charges the paticent for the blood they may feel more inclined to donating , I remember 30 years ago my father was receiving plasma while smoking a cigarette in front of Memorial Hospital I noticed a man with a green wrapper around his arm He said he just got done donating plasma I said wow so they pay him $60 for that I remember seeing my dad’s doctor bills $3000 for one bag of plasma that was 30 years ago I guess things have never changed


I get what you're saying. I just wish Americans would do something selfless just because it helps and it's the right thing to do.


Yes, but I believe, that this country couldn't exist if the vast majority of people here did not do things for others. It's just that the selfish and those who lack empathy, get the attention. Or am I being naive?


And you’ve done what lately for your fellow American?

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