Vail will welcome mobile plasma lab this week in effort to help critically ill COVID-19 patients |

Vail will welcome mobile plasma lab this week in effort to help critically ill COVID-19 patients

Mayor Dave Chapin, who has recovered from the virus, is on board to donate

Vail resident Amanda Zinn last week drove to Denver and back to give convalescent plasma in hopes of speeding the recovery of critically ill COVID-19 patients.
No drop-ins allowed While Vitalant is coming to Vail to collect plasma from recovered COVID-19 patients, there are rules:
  • You must have an appointment.
  • To get an appointment, you must have a doctor-confirmed diagnosis of COVID-19.
  • You must be symptom-free for at least 28 days.
  • You can donate once every seven days.
  • To donate plasma, you must be a qualified blood donor.

Amanda Zinn comes from a family of helpers. That’s why she’s donating her blood plasma.

Zinn, who manages the town of Vail’s welcome centers, was the first town employee to catch the COVID-19 virus. She’s recovered, and is feeling well.

Blood plasma from those who have recovered from COVID-19 is being used in some critically ill patients. There are no set treatments for COVID-19, and there’s no vaccine yet. But antibodies from those who have recovered has helped some critically ill patients get better.

Zinn has always been a blood donor. She has Type O blood, which can be used in anyone who needs blood. Her father is also Type O, and has given more than 10 gallons over the years, one pint at a time.

When Zinn learned that Vitalant was taking plasma donations from recovered COVID-19 patients, she signed up.

Her first donation was in the Denver area. She made the drive, and was hooked up to a machine that removes antibody-rich plasma from her blood, then returns the red blood cells back into her body.

Mobile lab coming to Vail

Starting this week, Zinn and other donors can stay closer to home, and can donate once every seven days, since a mobile plasma-collection lab is coming to Vail.

Dr. Nadine Lober, a local veterinarian, has also recovered from COVID-19. She found out about Vitalant’s plasma donation program and donated. She then set out to bring a plasma donation station to the Vail Valley. Eagle County was one of the first hot spots in the state, and has a number of people who have been tested positive for the virus, recovered and been symptom-free for at least 28 days.

“I’ve been working on this 10 hours a day for the last 10 days,” Lober said Monday.

That effort has paid off. Vitalant, a national nonprofit organization that operates in 40 states, including Colorado, will bring a portable plasma lab to Vail starting Tuesday.

People must have appointments and the appropriate paperwork in hand to donate. You can’t just show up. That’s the main reason the Vail location isn’t mentioned in this story.

Lober said she first believed she’d get 12 donors or so. That number quickly grew beyond 20. Because of some paperwork hiccups, there may not be as many donors as she first hoped, at least at first. That should be worked out before long, she said.

Zinn has already driven to Denver to donate. She said she’s looking forward to being able to donate locally.

Mayor on board

So is Vail mayor Dave Chapin. Chapin tested positive for COVID-19 in March, and said his 28-day negative status should coincide with one of the Vitalant visits this week.

Chapin said he’s heard from a number of friends and neighbors who are eager to help.

It’s a wonderful opportunity for our community to try to make a difference,” Chapin said. “Hopefully (plasma donation) helps someone get past this virus.”

Chapin said he’s been in contact with town officials, as well as Lober and Vitalant officials to find a town-owned facility for the mobile plasma lab in the coming weeks.

Chapin said he’ll be happy to donate once every seven days if he’s allowed.

“If I’m a qualified candidate, they could send Dracula every night,” he said.

Vail Daily Business Editor Scott Miller can be reached at

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