Interior Minister Süleyman Soylu, who was infected with the coronavirus but recovered last month, donated plasma to the Turkish Red Crescent (Kızılay) Tuesday.
The minister joined a growing number of recovered patients looking to contribute to the complementary therapy for others infected.
Speaking to reporters after his donation at a Red Crescent center in the capital Ankara, Soylu recounted his battle and offered advice on protection. "I thought I was knocked out when I tested positive. This is a disease where the path to recovery has many curves. You think you are better but then, the road takes a sudden turn," he said.
The minister added that downplaying the disease and the outbreak was "more dangerous than the pandemic itself" as he saw and witnessed in people he knew. "It has different effects on different people. Sometimes, you see otherwise perfectly healthy people hit hard," he said.
Furthering his boxing analogy, the minister said the virus was like a boxer who knew all the weak points of his opponent and attacked those. "We should never underestimate it and drop our guard. We should never abandon measures advised by health care professionals and never act carelessly. This is a disease that you can go through with little effect (on your body) or by suffering very much," he warned.
The plasma therapy Soylu contributed to helps COVID-19 patients in the absence of a vaccine. It provides passive immunization with antibody-rich plasma, though it is short-lived and requires repeated doses. Only recovered coronavirus patients can donate plasma and the Red Crescent oversees plasma donations across the country.
The charity, which also organizes blood donation drives, has repeatedly called on the public to donate but many have expressed concern about donating during the ongoing pandemic. The Red Crescent continues to assure the public that donations are safe and held in environments protected against the possibility of coronavirus infection.
"This is one of the therapy methods our patients need most in the time of the outbreak. It has an important place among treatments for the coronavirus. I believe every donation counts in this fight," Soylu told reporters after donating plasma.
Turkey started using plasma in coronavirus treatment in April, one month after the first case was reported in the country. Thousands of patients lined up for donations, but plasma from each patient was limited to the treatment of six patients. The number was raised to 16 patients with a rising number of donations.
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