LA CROSSE, Wis. (WKBT)–Red blood cells only have a shelf life of 42 days, which is why supplies need to be constantly replenished. There is always a need for blood donations but now more so than ever. To get more donors to come in during the pandemic, the American Red Cross is offering something extra.
The American Red Cross is testing all blood, platelet and plasma donations for COVID-19 antibodies. This would show if your immune system has responded to a COVID-19 infection in the past.
The organization saw that people wanted to know if they’ve been exposed to the novel coronavirus, so they decided to offer this testing. Since starting this testing in mid-June, organization officials have seen more people volunteering to donate.
“We have seen spikes in first-time donors so to speak and even donors that have been lapsed– they haven’t donated for a while,” said Scott Friell, donor recruitment representative for the American Red Cross.
It was fairly easy to do. They already test your blood for other diseases to ensure the donation is safe.
“This is one additional test when that’s all done,” Friell said.
The results will help leaders understand the spread. The American Red Cross is working with state health departments and federal agencies to provide non-identifiable, general summary data.
“We recognize that public health officials across the country and in Wisconsin have a real interest in knowing just how many people might have been infected,” Friell said.
If you do test positive, they’ll want you to come back. Convalescent plasma from people who have had the coronavirus is being used to treat current patients with serious or life-threatening COVID-19 infections.
Within 7 to 10 days of donating, you should have your answer on an online account.
The Red Cross is providing this testing for a limited time. Officials expect to offer the test through the summer months, but will reevaluate in the coming months if they are able to continue testing. This would be dependent on available funding and the evolving needs of the pandemic.
More information about the testing and how the information will be used can be found here.
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