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Indonesia launches plasma donation campaign

Vice president says the drive aims to curb a Covid death rate above the global average despite fewer cases

Indonesia launches plasma donation campaign

Catholic layman Fransiscus Xaverius Chrisnanto Yuwono donates plasma on Dec. 24, 2020. (Photo supplied)

Indonesia has stepped up its battle against the coronavirus pandemic by launching a national plasma donation campaign.

The move comes nearly a year after Covid-19 was first detected and has since killed tens of thousands in Southeast Asia’s worst-hit country.

The National Movement for Convalescent Plasma Donation campaign aims to evoke empathy among Covid-19 survivors in the hope that they will donate plasma to help lessen the number of deaths among seriously ill Covid-19 patients, according to Vice President Ma’aruf Amin.

“Saving lives is a form of humanity, so let us join hands to save others by donating convalescent plasma. A drop of your blood means hope for millions,” he said at the Jan. 18 launch livestreamed from the Indonesian Red Cross (PMI) office in Jakarta.

Convalescent plasma is a treatment in which blood plasma is taken from people who have recovered from the virus as it contains antibodies to the disease.

The plasma is transfused into seriously ill patients in the hope it will give the recipient’s struggling immune system a boost to fight off Covid-19.

Ma’aruf said the authorities have taken various steps to fight the pandemic.

“However, we still face huge challenges. The number of active cases remains lower than the global average, but the number of deaths is above the global average,” he said.

As of Jan. 18, Indonesia had recorded 917,015 coronavirus cases and about 26,000 deaths.

According to PMI chairman Muhammad Jusuf Kalla, PMI began a similar campaign in May last year in cooperation with the Jakarta-based Eijkman Institute for Molecular Biology, a non-profit, government-funded research institute.

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“We have received donations from at least 7,000 people, or 40 donations per day. This number remains too low compared to demand, which requires at least 200,” he said.

Father Paulus Christian Siswantoko, a Covid-19 survivor, urged others to donate plasma in the name of humanity.

“This campaign will surely help seriously ill patients to recover. It is needed as the number of Covid-19 patients continues to rise each day,” the executive secretary of the Indonesian bishops’ Commission for the Laity told UCA News.

He said the government campaign needs to make Covid-19 survivors aware of how important plasma donations are. “Not all of them understand what convalescent plasma is about,” he said.

Catholic layman Fransiscus Xaverius Chrisnanto Yuwono told UCA News he had donated plasma twice.

“There appears to be a stigma about it among Covid-19 survivors. However, I believe it helps others,” he said, adding he will continue donating.

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