Researchers from the University of Nottingham’s School of Psychology, in collaboration with Australian Red Cross Lifeblood and the University of Queensland Australia, carried out a study to understand what drives Covid-19 survivors donate plasma to patients.

The study has been the first in the world to examine the motivations and barriers to convalescent plasma donation in the UK. The findings were published in Transfusion Medicine .

Lead author and professor Eamonn Ferguson from the University of Nottingham’s School of Psychology said: “The use of convalescent plasma as a treatment relies on the generosity and ‘altruism’ of those who have recently recovered from the virus to help those currently ill.”

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He added: “To enhance the recruitment of convalescent plasma donors — as much as blood donors — we need to understand what would motivate, or even defer, those who are eligible to be convalescent plasma donors to donate.”

Growth from adversity

The study noted that most people would choose to donate as they want to show their gratitude by giving something back after recovering.

The researchers identified six key motivations - Altruism from adversity, post-traumatic growth, moral and civic duty to help research, patriotism, and control, reluctant altruism, and signaling reluctant altruism.

They found the main motivation to donate from these was altruism from adversity and a sense of pay-it-back reciprocity.

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Barriers to donating were also explored. Some of them include logistics, lack of trust in institutions, fear of re-infection, infection and process risk to self and others and revealing infection history. Other fears such as fear of needles was a particular deterrent.

Convalescent plasma is a treatment being trialed for Covid-19 and involves blood plasma from recovered Covid-19 patients being transfused into critically ill Covid-19 patients. This provides ‘passive’ immunity as the antibodies against Covid-19 are transferred from the recovered patient to the current patient.