Lakewood Jews join thousands of others donating plasma to fight COVID-19 (Opinion)
Things are changing so fast in the science of coronavirus that every day you hear something new. And the latest therapy for those suffering from the most serious cases of the virus is plasma.
Well, before anyone had ever heard of the idea of the COVID-19 fighting properties of blood plasma, Dr. Shmuel Shoham, an expert on infectious diseases in transplant patients at Johns Hopkins University, was on it.
According to an article on Forward.com, in early March, when Shoham realized that convalescent plasma — (antibodies taken from the blood of people who had Covid- 19) could be a a major weapon in the arsenal against the virus, he enlisted a friend named Chaim Lebovits and they were off and running. Lebovits started spreading the word around the Orthodox Jewish community and more than 3,000 people answered the call. They donated plasma at blood banks around the region and by Wednesday, 6,000 more had tested to see if they have the right antibodies.
As word spread, Lakewood’s always community-minded Orthodox community sprang into action, too, and as of this past Sunday, the Mayo Clinic received 1,000 blood samples to test for antibodies from donors in Lakewood. Lebovits, a businessman, said he hopes to organize more than 45,000 people from the Orthodox community around New York City to donate plasma.
“We as observant Jews have an obligation to preserve life, and save life, and help as many people as we can.” he told The Forward.
The effort begun by these two men has become widespread throughout every branch of the observant Jewish community, ranging from Orthodox Jews from visibly religious Hasidic communities to Modern Orthodox. The growing trend has made Orthodox Jews a major source of the plasma, which looks to be a promising therapy in the fight against the coronavirus. The article goes on to say that many wealthy Orthodox philanthropists are also involved in the coalition, in some cases buying machines for blood centers so they can take more donations.
If you are interested in donating plasma, here’s good news: according to an article on NJ.com, Hackensack University medical Center has received federal government approval to test for the antibodies in the plasma of those who have COVID-19 and those who have recovered from it. To see if you are eligible to donate plasma, you can take the survey here. The article also provides the contact for recruitment for the testing. They report that anyone who thinks they may be eligible can contact recruiting coordinator Anna Ullrich at Anna.Ullrich@hackensackmeridian.org.
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