Lifeblood is calling for locals who have recovered from COVID-19 to roll up their sleeves and donate convalescent plasma, in a bid to try and help others fight the virus.
55-year-old Helen Hamilton is the first to donate at the Nepean Donor Centre after having recovered from the virus, which she contracted whilst aboard a Royal Caribbean Cruise.
The cruise ship, Ovation of the Seas, sailed to New Zealand but the borders closed before they were ever able to disembark.
Despite returning from the cruise early on into the pandemic, Ms Hamilton and her husband Simon chose to self quarantine, just in case.
When Mr Hamilton started showing some flu-like symptoms the pair and their children were tested.
However, despite being completely asymptomatic, Ms Hamilton was the only one in the family to test positive.
“I never had a temperature, I had no symptoms, I wouldn’t even have gotten tested if it weren’t for my husband; I would never have known,” she said.
“All that happened eventually was I lost my smell and taste and felt a little bit fatigued by the end of the day.”
Ms Hamilton said she is one of the lucky ones, however the thought of how many she could have infected if she didn’t choose to self isolate is harrowing to her.
Now having completely recovered, she said she felt it was her responsibility to donate her plasma, in the hope it could help others.
Convalescent plasma is the liquid part of blood that contains antibodies.
Once someone has recovered from COVID-19, the antibodies against the virus remain in their plasma.
The plasma collected will be used to treat patients in clinical trials, both as a form of direct treatment and as a medication called COVID-19 Immunoglobulin, which may provide passive immunity against Coronavirus infections.
Donations can only be made by those who have fully recovered and have been symptom-free for at least 28 days.
Anyone who thinks they are eligible should contact 13 14 95.
A graduate of Western Sydney University, Nicola Barton is a news journalist with the Western Weekender, primarily covering crime and politics.