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Blood donors can help COVID-19 patients

ESCANABA — Plasma from whole blood and platelet donations made through the American Red Cross that test positive for COVID-19 antibodies may now help current coronavirus patients in need of convalescent plasma transfusions. Donors are encouraged to make an appointment to give blood or platelets now to help ensure coronavirus patients and others who depend on transfusions have needed blood products this fall.

In April, the Red Cross began collecting COVID-19 convalescent plasma from previously diagnosed individuals, who could only give at one of approximately 170 Red Cross blood donation centers across the country. Convalescent plasma contains COVID-19 antibodies that may help the most critical patients actively fighting this virus. Now, whole blood and platelet donations made at any Red Cross blood drive or blood donation center could be helpful in this effort.

“Donations that come back positive for COVID-19 antibodies now undergo secondary testing to confirm antibody results, and that enables the Red Cross to then potentially use the plasma from those donations for COVID-19 patients,” said Dr. Erin Goodhue, executive medical director of direct patient care with the Red Cross Biomedical Services. “With approximately 2% of the U.S. population testing positive for COVID-19 antibodies, every donation is important to ensure patients with coronavirus have access to every treatment option available to them.”

The Red Cross encourages eligible individuals to schedule an appointment, download the free Blood Donor App, visit RedCrossBlood.org, call 1-800-RED CROSS (1-800-733-2767) or enable the Blood Donor Skill on any Alexa Echo device.

Antibody testing may indicate if the donor’s immune system has produced antibodies to this coronavirus, regardless of whether an individual experienced COVID-19 symptoms. Donations are tested using samples pulled at the time of donation and sent to a testing laboratory where they will also undergo routine infectious disease testing.

COVID-19 antibody test results will be available within one to two weeks in the Red Cross Blood Donor App or donor portal at RedCrossBlood.org. A positive antibody test result does not confirm infection or immunity. The Red Cross is not testing donors to diagnose illness, referred to as a diagnostic test.

Each Red Cross blood drive and donation center follows the highest standards of safety and infection control, and additional precautions – including temperature checks, social distancing and face coverings for donors and staff – have been implemented to help protect the health of all those in attendance. Donors are asked to schedule an appointment prior to arriving at the drive and are required to wear a face covering or mask while at the drive, in alignment with Centers for Disease Control and Prevention public guidance.  

Upcoming blood donation opportunities are:

Escanaba

Sept. 29: 11:30 a.m. – 4:30 p.m., Delta Plaza Mall, 301 N Lincoln

Oct. 14: 11:30 a.m. – 4:30 p.m., Delta Plaza Mall, 301 N Lincoln

Powers

Sept. 28: 12 p.m. – 5 p.m., St John Neumann Parish Hall, Hwy 2

Stephenson

Oct. 14: 9 a.m. – 2 p.m., Stephenson High School, W526 Division St, PO Box 529

All blood types are needed to ensure a reliable supply for patients. A blood donor card or driver’s license or two other forms of identification are required at check-in. Individuals who are 17 years of age in most states (16 with parental consent where allowed by state law), weigh at least 110 pounds and are in generally good health may be eligible to donate blood. High school students and other donors 18 years of age and younger also have to meet certain height and weight requirements.

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