Tom Hanks donates bag of plasma to help coronavirus patients

The movie star is documenting his experience helping others as a coronavirus survivor.

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/ Source: TODAY
By Alexander Kacala

Tom Hanks is doing his part to help others during the coronavirus pandemic.

One of the ways COVID-19 survivors like Hanks can pitch in is by donating convalescent plasma.

The liquid portion of blood taken from survivors of the disease may be rich in antibodies that doctors hope can speed up recovery for the sickest patients. A plasma transfusion is much like a blood transfusion and is administered with an IV.

"Here’s last week's bag of plasma," Hanks wrote in a caption that accompanied a photo posted Wednesday. "Such a bag! After the paperwork, it’s as easy as taking a nap. Thanks @arimoin and UCLA."

In a recent interview with NPR, Hanks explained that he and his wife, Rita Wilson, are able to donate their blood and that he hoped it may be used to help find a cure for the deadly virus.

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"We just found out that we do carry the antibodies," Hanks said. "We have not only been approached; we have said, do you want our blood? Can we give plasma? And, in fact, we will be giving it now to the places that hope to work on what I would like to call the Hank-ccine."

Wilson also took to social media to share a step in her journey to donate plasma.

"A photo of getting tested for antibodies in preparation of donating plasma," she shared on Instagram on Wednesday. "Thank you Dr. Anne Rimoin at UCLA for the study you’re working on to help patients heal from COVID-19."

Plasma donors have to confirm they had COVID-19 and have fully recovered. That means having documentation of a positive test. They also need to either be 14 days from their last symptoms and have a negative COVID-19 test, or 28 days from their last symptoms — no negative test required.

Andy Cohen, another celebrity survivor, has said because of rules limiting gay men from donating blood, he was unable to do so.

"I signed up for a program for COVID-19 survivors where you could donate plasma, which is rich in antibodies, to those still battling the virus," he said on a recent episode of "Watch What Happens Live." "I was told that, due to antiquated and discriminatory guidelines by the FDA to prevent HIV, I am ineligible to donate blood because I'm a gay man."

Doctors are closely following coronavirus patients who received donor plasma to see if it effectively treats the virus. But these therapies cannot become widespread without people donating plasma. Right now, people who have had COVID-19 and have recovered should consider giving plasma to help others.

“The only way you can give (plasma) to anyone is by people going to the Red Cross and donating plasma. If anyone had COVID-19 and completely recovered they just need to donate,” Dr. David Teachey, a pediatric hematologist oncologist at Children's Hospital of Philadelphia, told TODAY. “There is a backlog. There are a lot of hospitals with a lot of sick adults who need more people who donate.”

To learn more about donating plasma (or blood) people can visit the Red Cross website or call 1-800-RED-CROSS (1-800-733-2767).