Tom Hanks And Rita Wilson Donate Blood And Plasma For Coronavirus Vaccine

by Kristine Cannon
Tom Hanks Rita Wilson
Amy Sussman/Getty Images

Tom Hanks and Rita Wilson are donating their blood and plasma for research — but they aren’t alone

In early March, Tom Hanks and Rita Wilson tested positive for COVID-19 while they were in Australia for a film; and since, we’ve followed their journey, from every health update they’ve posted to social media to their recovery. Now? The celebrity couple are doing their part to help develop a vaccine for the coronavirus: They’ve donated their blood and plasma for research.

In the April 18 episode of NPR’s “Wait Wait… Don’t Tell Me!”, Hanks spoke with host Peter Sagal and panelists Adam Felber, Negin Farsad, and Peter Grosz about his and Wilson’s next steps now that they’re back home in Los Angeles feeling “just fine” and “dandy.”

“A lot of the question is, ‘What now?’ You know? ‘What do we do now? Is there something we can do?’ And, in fact, we just found out that we do carry the antibodies,” Hanks said. “We have not only been approached; we have said, ‘Do you want our blood? Can we give plasma?’ And, in fact, we will be giving it now to the places that hope to work on what I would like to call the Hank-ccine.”

Tom Hanks would save the world.

The NPR interview didn’t end there.

Sagal also asked Hanks what is life has been like during lockdown. “Are you doing the same as the rest of us, just in your house, reading books, spending your time, taking a Zoom meeting?” he asked the A Beautiful Day in the Neighborhood star.

“I find that something different has happened about every 20 minutes. I’ve done the Marie Kondo-izing of much of my life, I must say,” he said. “But I got to say, if I win one hand of Solitaire, I immediately try to see if I can get two in a row, so I’m busy. I am very, very busy enough.”

All jokes aside, though, Hanks isn’t alone in donating blood and plasma at this time.

According to NPR, blood donations plummeted and were down by 18,000 units from March 9 to March 13 at American Red Cross donation centers nationwide. At the time, several hundred blood drives were canceled across the country. But according to the American Red Cross’ website, they’ve since been able to “meet immediate patient needs” thanks to the many that were able to give blood and schedule upcoming appointments over the past couple of weeks.

But the work is far from over.

The American Red Cross encourages individuals to keep their scheduled blood, platelet, or AB Elite plasma donation appointments, as well as make new donation appointments for the weeks ahead “to ensure a stable supply throughout this pandemic.”

“It’s crucial for people to continue to donate blood right now so that hospitals have an adequate supply to help those who need it,” infectious disease specialist Frank Esper, MD, told the Cleveland Clinic on April 21. “Blood collection agencies are absolutely adhering to good social distancing practices and have the donor’s safety at the forefront.”

The Red Cross is currently seeking people who are fully recovered from the new coronavirus to sign up to donate plasma to help current COVID-19 patients. The organization further states on their website that people who have fully recovered from COVID-19 have antibodies in their plasma that can attack the virus.

“This convalescent plasma is being evaluated as treatment for patients with serious or immediately life-threatening COVID-19 infections, or those judged by a healthcare provider to be at high risk of progression to severe or life-threatening disease,” the Red Cross said.

The U.S. Surgeon General adds: “You can still go out and give blood. We’re worried about potential blood shortages in the future. Social distancing does not have to mean social disengagement.”

Information about COVID-19 is rapidly changing, and Scary Mommy is committed to providing the most recent data in our coverage. With news being updated so frequently, some of the information in this story may have changed after publication. For this reason, we are encouraging readers to use online resources from local public health departments, the Centers for Disease Control, and the World Health Organization to remain as informed as possible.