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Georgia soldiers donate CCP in the fight against COVID-19

Man wearing mask, giving blood Army Sgt. Brett Knox with the Kendrick Memorial Blood Center, located outside Fort Gordon, Georgia takes blood from Patrick Young, an employee at Winn Army Community Hospital, as a participant in the DoD COVID-19 Convalescent Plasma Program. (Photo by Zach Rehnstrom.)

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The COVID-19 Convalescent Plasma (CCP) Collection Program is a Department of Defense effort to obtain 10,000 units CCP with emphasis on blood donations by members of the military community who have recovered from the disease. CCP will be given to critically ill patients, and to support the development of an effective treatment against the disease. Potential donors should visit the Armed Services Blood Program website at: https://www.militaryblood.dod.mil/Donors/COVID-19andBloodDonation.aspx – to find a complete list of available collection centers.

The Armed Services Blood Program called upon volunteers from Fort Stewart-Hunter Army Airfield to join Fort Gordon and the Department of Defense in the fight against the coronavirus, during a blood and plasma drive in September.

While the drive collected whole blood, a special effort was made to collect plasma from individuals who recovered from the coronavirus, as part of the COVID-19 Convalescent Plasma Program.

According to the Food and Drug Administration, convalescent plasma transferred to a patient still suffering from the disease, could help speed the recovery process.

Army Maj. Joclyn Adviento, from Kendrick Memorial Blood Center, located outside Fort Gordon, transported more than 15 Soldiers to support the effort. She reiterated the DoD’s effort to obtain 10,000 units by end of September.

Brenda Cox, a nurse from Winn Army Community Hospital, answered the call.

Cox tested positive with the coronavirus early in the pandemic.

She said it started with a scratchy throat.

"I thought it was kind of weird," Cox said. That night she felt hot and cold but didn't fully understand what was going on. At that time, COVID was associated with a high fever, coughing, and difficulty breathing.

The next day she went to work but started to feel a little drained, developing a slight headache.

"I noticed my temperature was going up, and I felt warmer," Cox said. She was tested for COVID; and sent home to rest and quarantine until test results determined if she was positive. She was.

"I was surprised, Cox said. "As a nurse, I tried to do all the right things."

She said she maintained a strict regimen of handwashing, physical distancing from others, and wearing a mask, but she still became exposed. During her recovery and isolation, she said she had about four days of temperature, lethargy, headaches, and a lack of appetite.

"It took me probably seven days to get back to my normal self," she said.

But even in her recovery, Cox stayed current with the latest COVID-19 information, learning how the antibodies in her plasma may help others.

"I decided I wanted to give some of my good antibodies to someone who can use it," Cox said. She said she has always believed the more you do for others, the more it comes back later.

Cox said giving plasma is important because it can help save lives and encouraged other former COVID-19 survivors to donate.

Across Fort Stewart and Hunter Army Airfield, soldiers and other family members answered the ASBP call.

Erin Longacre, a blood donor recruiter with the Defense Health Agency’s Combat Support Operations, said Adviento’s group collected about 100 units of blood from Fort Stewart-Hunter Army Airfield during their two-day mission. Of those, about 50 percent were from recovered COVID-19-positive donors.

To learn more about Armed Services Blood Program, visit: www.militaryblood.dod.mil. To learn about the Convalescent Plasma Collection Program, visit: https://www.militaryblood.dod.mil/Donors/COVID-19andBloodDonation.aspx.

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