Oldest plasma donor who beat COVID-19 supports urgent appeal

3 August 2020

Malcolm Shaw, 72, is supporting the urgent NHS appeal for more COVID-19 convalescent plasma donors, especially male donors.

He is the oldest donor who has high enough antibodies for use in the national plasma trial.

NHSBT needs as many donors as possible to come forward now from the first wave of infections to enable as many donations as possible to be taken now.

Malcolm was a former consultant cancer nurse with the NHS and also Lead Cancer Nurse in Guernsey before retiring with his wife to return to the Wirral. He caught the virus at the beginning of April.

Malcolm Shaw, 72, said: “It started with loss of taste and smell then quite a bad cough which slowly worsened causing vomiting. My wife quarantined me in the spare room and that’s where I stayed for several days.

“My condition continued to deteriorate, and it got to the point where I became short of breath and couldn’t eat or drink anything. At that point, we called the paramedics and I was admitted to hospital.

“I was in hospital for a total of eight days on oxygen and various medicines.

“I was made aware of the convalescent plasma trial when I was due to give my regular blood donation when I told staff I had received a positive test for coronavirus.

“I’ve been a regular blood donor since I was 18. I’m very used to the process - I’m told that this, and my age, is what makes me such a good candidate for convalescent plasma donation.”

When speaking about the potential benefits of COVID-19 antibodies, Malcolm said: “To be told that my antibody levels are high makes me very happy indeed.

“I’ve been following stories like those of Ann Kitchen, the UK’s first plasma recipient, who puts her recovery down to convalescent plasma treatment.

“I am very pleased to read stories like that, and I will keep on donating plasma as long as I am able. I wish Ann well with her treatment.

“To anyone, I would say if you feel able to donate, please do. It could really make a difference to someone’s life. Donating is straightforward and you are sure to receive a warm welcome from the care team.”

Professor David Roberts, NHSBT Associate Director for Blood Donation, and one of the plasma trial’s lead investigators, said: “Every offer to donate is incredibly valuable and we thank Malcolm for all he has done.

“We urgently need to collect convalescent plasma now, to make sure plasma is readily available during any second wave. We especially need male donors like Malcolm as they generally have higher antibody levels.

“Please help the NHS fight COVID-19 by donating. You could save lives.”

Convalescent plasma is being collected at NHSBT’s 23 donor centres around the country, and several pop-up donor centres.

Blood plasma from recovered people can be transfused into people who still have COVID-19, to potentially save lives. The antibodies in the plasma can stop the virus invading cells.

Anyone who has had coronavirus, either a test result or the symptoms, can offer to donate at a donor centre by calling 0300 123 23 23 or visiting our dedicated website.