As of Monday, June 15 and for a limited time, the American Red Cross is testing all blood, platelet and plasma donations for COVID-19 antibodies, providing donors insight into whether they have been exposed to the coronavirus. At the same time, there continues to be an urgent need for blood donations as hospitals resume surgeries and treatments that require blood products.
Locally, the Red Cross will be in Oakdale for a community blood drive on Friday, June 19 at the Bianchi Community Center, 110 S. Second Ave., from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Donations will benefit Isabella ‘Izzy’ Morales, a local teen who is currently battling leukemia. To support social distancing, appointments are required. Make an appointment at Redcrossblood.org and enter sponsor code “Izzy” or call 1-800-RED-CROSS.
Meanwhile, the Tuesday, June 9 blood drive hosted in Escalon saw the collection of 36 units, potentially saving 108 lives.
“So far this year we have collected a total of 94 units, and we have still have three blood drives scheduled (for Escalon) in 2020,” said Kristen Merrill, Donor Recruitment. “We have a very regular group that donate about every 56 days. One donor in particular is just one donation away from being a 13 gallon donor, that’s a total of 103 units.”
The next blood drive in Escalon has been scheduled for Tuesday, Aug. 11.
The antibody testing now being done by the Red Cross will indicate if the donor’s immune system has produced antibodies to the coronavirus, regardless of whether they developed symptoms. Donations will be tested using samples pulled at the time of donation and sent to a testing laboratory where they will also undergo routine infectious disease testing. A positive antibody test result does not confirm infection or immunity.
COVID-19 antibody test results will be available within 7-10 days in the Red Cross Blood Donor App or donor portal at RedCrossBlood.org. The test has been authorized for emergency use by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration.
“As an organization dedicated to helping others, the Red Cross is pleased to provide more information about COVID-19 to our valued donors,” said Dr. Erin Goodhue, executive medical director of direct patient care with the Red Cross Biomedical Services. “If you are feeling healthy and well, please schedule an appointment to not only help saves lives but also learn about your potential exposure to COVID-19.”
The Red Cross is not testing donors to diagnose illness, referred to as a diagnostic test.
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 during June will receive a $5 Amazon.com Gift Card via email.
To protect the health and safety of Red Cross staff and donors, individuals who do not feel well or who believe they may be ill with COVID-19 should postpone their donation.
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.
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.
Blood and platelet donors can save time at their next donation by using RapidPass to complete their pre-donation reading and health history questionnaire online, on the day of their donation, before arriving at the blood drive. To get started, follow the instructions at RedCrossBlood.org/RapidPass or use the Blood Donor App.
The American Red Cross shelters, feeds and provides emotional support to victims of disasters; supplies about 40 percent of the nation’s blood; teaches skills that save lives; provides international humanitarian aid; and supports military members and their families. The Red Cross is a not-for-profit organization that depends on volunteers and the generosity of the American public to perform its mission. For more information, visit redcross.org or cruzrojaamericana.org, or visit them on Twitter at @RedCross.