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A COVID-19 'mitzvah': Orthodox Jews donate blood plasma by the thousands

[July 23, 2020: NBC News]

One Saturday in mid-April, a group of Orthodox Jewish leaders held a conference call with a Minnesota doctor as they grappled with spiking coronavirus cases in their New York area communities.

Dr. Michael Joyner of the Mayo Clinic is leading a nationwide study on the use of blood plasma to treat patients with severe COVID-19. On the call that afternoon, he told the religious leaders he needed something for his research: more blood from people who have survived the virus.

“There’s no way we’d be able to treat so many people without them,” said Dr. Michael Joyner of the Mayo Clinic.

“Do what you can,” Joyner said, according to Yehudah Kaszirer of Lakewood, New Jersey, one of the rabbis on the call.

About 36 hours later, Kaszirer boarded a private jet with roughly 1,000 vials of blood stored in coolers. It had been drawn from members of the community through a blood drive organized with military-like speed.

The blood would be taken to the Mayo Clinic in Rochester, Minnesota, and tested for antibodies.

“It felt like being on a godly mission,” Kaszirer said.... MORE


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