American Red Cross testing blood donors for coronavirus antibodies

Coronavirus

WICKLIFFE, OH (WJW)– The American Red Cross announced Monday it is now providing COVID-19 antibody testing for all of their donors.

The free test is available for blood, plasma and platelets for a limited time. 

“This will be part of the regular blood donation process, so nothing is going to change for the donor or for anyone involved,” said Christy Peters, communication manager for the American Red Cross.

The humanitarian organization said it wants to help give donors access to that knowledge.

“It will be nice to know because I am one of those essential employees so I’ve been out every day,” said donor Kelly Sather.

The FDA-approved test will identify if the donor’s immune system has developed antibodies, regardless of whether they developed symptoms. A positive test result does not confirm infection or immunity.

“We are working with the FDA, of course, and so we will also probably work with local health departments just to, whatever data they think might be helpful to them we can help provide that if we have it,” Peters said.

The Red Cross does want to make it clear it is not testing donors to diagnose COVID-19 and if you don’t feel well, you should postpone your donation.

“We know that some people are somewhat nervous to come out. We are asking that everyone wear a mask or face covering when they come to give and that includes our staff as well as our volunteers,” Peters said.

Donors are asked to schedule their appointments ahead of time.

Volunteers and staff are taking temperature checks, cleaning surfaces between donors and practicing social distancing.

The Red Cross said the antibody test results will be available in seven to 10 business days on both their Red Cross Blood Donor App as well as the blood donor profile on their website, RedCrossBlood.org.

“I keep hearing about the (convalescent) plasma and they want people who have had the antibodies,” Sather said.

“We have been collecting convalescent plasma. We’ve been doing that since April, that’s somewhat a different process,” Peters said as she explained people can visit RedCrossBlood.org/plasma4covid and a representative will contact that individual.

Peters reminded people there is still a constant need for blood donations.

“We’ve seen about a 30 percent increase since hospitals started resuming elective surgeries, in terms of demand,” she said.

Donation appointments can be made by downloading the free Blood Donor App, visiting RedCrossBlood.org, calling 1-800-RED CROSS (1-800-733-2767) or enabling the Blood Donor Skill on any Alexa Echo device. Thanks to Amazon, all those who come to give between June 1 to June 30 will receive a $5 Amazon.com gift card via email.

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