A BLOOD plasma donation centre is opening in the region as part of an expanding Covid-19 trial.

NHS Blood and Transplant is opening the centre in Stockton to help the world's largest plasma trial for the coronavirus.

The centre – one of 14 across the country – will open in the next few weeks. The final venue is being agreed and will be announced shortly.

NHSBT is making an urgent appeal for people in Stockton who have had Covid-19 to register as donors.

The antibody-rich plasma of people who have had coronavirus can be transfused into people who are struggling to develop their own immune response, which could slow or stop the virus spreading, potentially saving lives.

Professor David Roberts, NHSBT associate medical director for blood donation, said: “We have so far seen a fantastic response from the public. We would love to see people in Stockton-on-Tees offering to donate so we can book them into donation appointments now. Donation is safe and easy, and you could save lives.”

The NHS says there is promising evidence for the effectiveness of convalescent plasma but before general use patient benefit needs to be demonstrated in randomised control trials.

The NHS Blood and Transplant led trials are the world’s largest randomised clinical trials of convalescent plasma.

Donations are urgently needed so that if the trial confirms patient benefit, plasma can be made readily available for general use in the NHS.

Hospitals in Stockton have transfused around 36 people with Covid-19 convalescent plasma.

NHSBT currently collects plasma in 28 areas and Stockton is one for 14 chosen for the expansion of autumn and winter because it has a significant number of potential donors.

Donation takes about 45 minutes.

The whole visit – including the donation, snacks and checks - takes about 1 hour 15 minutes. Your body usually replaces the plasma you’ve donated in 24-48 hours.

Your body also quickly replaces the donated antibodies. All donations are tested for COVID antibodies. NHSBT is collaborating with the REMAP-CAP and RECOVERY trials