First Patient in Iowa Receives Convalescent Plasma


DES MOINES, Iowa (April 15, 2020) – UnityPoint Health has partnered with LifeServe Blood Center to deliver the first convalescent plasma product to a current COVID-19 patient in Des Moines. The plasma was donated by a recovered COVID-19 patient and will be used for an inpatient at Iowa Methodist Medical Center with serious COVID-19 symptoms.

UnityPoint Health is one of the first health systems in Iowa to use convalescent plasma investigative treatment for COVID-19 patients. The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has approved emergency use of convalescent plasma from people who have fully recovered from COVID-19. Current patients with serious or life-threatening COVID-19 infections, or those deemed at high risk are eligible to receive the plasma.

Recovered COVID-19 donors have antibodies in their plasma that attack the virus. Donated plasma from healthy donors who have recovered from COVID-19 is being trialed to determine its effectiveness. Dr. Leyla Best, an infectious disease specialist at UnityPoint Health, said, “This type of treatment has been successful in treating other diseases like H1N1 or Mers, and is new, but very promising for COVID-19 patients.”

LifeServe Blood Center is one of two Iowa-based blood centers that will be collecting convalescent plasma from healthy COVID-19 recovered volunteer donors eligible to be used in hospitals. UnityPoint Health will begin contacting patients by phone who have recovered from COVID-19 and may fit the criteria to be a prospective donor. For more information, visit

UnityPoint Health and LifeServe Blood Center are seeking the following volunteer donors: individuals who received a positive laboratory confirmation of the virus or who have received a diagnosis of COVID-19 from their physician, have since successfully recovered from COVID-19 (28 days free of any symptoms), and have a physician referral document. Individuals who meet this criteria will be pre-screened to determine donor eligibility. Individuals who meet these requirements are instructed to visit to begin the pre-screening and approval process. Walk-in donations will not be accepted.

Donations of red blood cells and platelets continue to be in need as concerns about the health of the donor base becomes questionable as the pandemic peaks continue to rise.  While elective surgeries are not occurring during the pandemic, cancer treatment, accident, and trauma situations continue to require lifesaving blood donations.  As LifeServe is following social distancing protocols, scheduled donation appointments are required. Donors who walk-in without an appointment will not be able to give blood. LifeServe is asking donors to schedule appointments in the weeks and months ahead to ensure a ready and stable blood supply during and after the pandemic.  Appointments can be scheduled by visiting


About LifeServe Blood Center

LifeServe Blood Center is a non-profit, community-based blood center that has served the needs of local hospitals and patients in our regions since 1963. As one of the 15 largest blood centers in the country, LifeServe Blood Center is the SOLE provider of blood and blood products to more than 120 hospitals located across Iowa, Nebraska, and South Dakota. LifeServe is committed to saving lives by providing premier service to volunteer blood donors and access to a safe, quality blood supply for hospitals and patients. Your donation with LifeServe will help save your neighbor, a friend, family member or a stranger on the street. YOU make a difference in YOUR community. For more information about blood donation or to schedule an appointment to donate blood, call 800.287.4903 or visit


About UnityPoint Health

UnityPoint Health is the nation’s 13th largest nonprofit health system and the fourth largest nondenominational health system in America, providing care to both metropolitan and rural communities across Iowa, western Illinois and southern Wisconsin. Through relationships with more than 315 physician clinics21 regional and 19 community network hospitals and home care services throughout its 9 regions, UnityPoint Health is one of the nation’s most integrated health systems. Headquartered in West Des Moines, Iowa, UnityPoint Health entities employ more than 30,000 employees who are dedicated to making it easier for people to live well. More at