Using convalescent plasma to treat Covid-19 patients
Is it permissible to use plasma collected from recovered COVID-19 patients to help other infected patients?
Plasma is the clear yellowish liquid portion of the blood that remains after red blood cells, white blood cells, platelets and other cellular components are removed. Plasma is a valuable therapy in the treatment of many conditions.
The world woke up to a new reality this year, to the rapid and insidious spread of the new coronavirus, also known as COVID-19, to every country. Currently, there is no specific treatment for the disease and various drugs and therapies are used to treat the symptoms. Amid the rush of clinical studies to find effective drugs and treatment, convalescent plasma is being touted as a potential coronavirus treatment.
In light of this possible valid treatment option, convalescent plasma donation has become both a religious and a national duty due to the needs of patients in critical condition. This is because, in such cases, convalescent plasma is a means for the protection of human life which is a duty confirmed as one of the most important necessities defined by the five objectives of Islamic law. Moreover, it is determined in Islamic law that the means take the same ruling as their objectives. In the context in question, if it is a duty to save a human life, then the means by which that life can be saved is itself a duty. God Almighty says, “And whoever saves one – it is as if he had saved mankind entirely.” Quoting examples on the prioritization of some masalih (interests) over others, whether obligatory or recommended, the great scholar, Al-‘Izz Ibn Abdul-Salam said, “It is established that to rescue a person from an imminent danger is — above everything else — the fulfillment of a duty owed to God with regard to the preservation of human life.”
The necessity of protecting human life is a right owed to God more than a right owed to fellow humans. For this reason, Islamic law elevated it from the category of rights to that of obligations. Consequently, God Almighty prohibited suicide and incurring harm upon oneself with the words, “And do not kill yourselves [or one another]. Indeed, God is to you ever Merciful. And whoever does that in aggression and injustice - then We will drive him into a Fire. And that, for God, is [always] easy.” He also says, “… And do not throw [yourselves] with your [own] hands into destruction.”
Individuals who have contacted COVID-19 and recovered miss the opportunity of saving human life to which Islamic law accords the highest level of priority if they abstain from donating their plasma to severely affected patients. Since blood is under a constant state of renewal, the amount donated for plasma does not cause any harm or weaken the donor. In fact, it is safe to say that the amount of donated blood is in surplus to the donor’s needs. The desirability of helping others in need with any surplus beyond one’s needs is evidenced by the hadith reported by Abu Sa'id Al-Khudri (may God be pleased with him) who said, “While we were on a journey with the Messenger of God (peace and blessings be upon him) a rider came to him and began looking left and right. The Messenger of God (peace sand blessings be upon him) said, ‘Whoever has an extra mount should give it to him who does not have one, and whoever has surplus food should give it to him who has none.’ He then proceeded to mention other kinds of property until we thought that none of us had any right to one’s surplus property.”
Moreover, the donation of convalescent plasma to help in the treatment of COVID-19 patients is both a responsibility and a duty upon Muslims towards fellow humans. Nu'man Ibn Bashir (may God be pleased with them) narrated that the Messenger of God (peace and blessings be upon him) said, "The believers in their mutual kindness, compassion and sympathy are like one body. When one part of the body suffers, the whole body responds to it with wakefulness and fever."
Based on the above and in reference to the question, taking plasma from blood donated by people who have recovered from COVID-19 is not only permissible in Islamic law but a rewardable responsibility towards one’s society. In fact, with the number of severely infected patients on the rise, we can say that the donation of convalescent plasma is obligatory. It is however important to take all the medical necessary precautions and conditions.
And God Almighty knows best.