Red Cross testing donors for COVID-19 antibodies

Lynn Evans of Canyon Country raises her arm as she finishes donating blood during the Red Cross Blood Drive held the Canyon Country Jo Anne Darcy Library in Canyon Country on Friday. Dan Watson/The Signal
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The American Red Cross announced Monday it would be testing all blood, platelet and plasma donations for COVID-19 antibodies for a limited time, allowing donors insight into whether they have been exposed to the virus. 

This comes as there is an urgent need for blood donations to help prevent a summer shortage due to increased hospital demand in recent weeks as hospitals resume surgeries and treatments that require blood products.

Eligible and healthy donors are strongly urged to make an appointment to provide life-saving blood products to patients, per the Red Cross.

“The antibody test used by the Red Cross is authorized by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration and may indicate if the donor’s immune system has produced antibodies to the coronavirus, regardless of whether they developed symptoms,” Red Cross Communications Manager Christine Welsh said via email.

Donated blood samples are typically sent to a testing laboratory to undergo routine infectious disease testing, and those samples are now expected to also be tested for the COVID-19 antibody.

COVID-19 antibody test results should be available to donors within 7-10 days in the Red Cross Blood Donor app or via the online donor portal.

The antibody test, which was authorized for emergency use by the FDA, does not test donors to diagnose illness, and a positive antibody test result does not confirm infection or immunity, according to Red Cross officials. 

During the current health crisis, the Red Cross is taking additional precautions to ensure the safety of our donors and staff, including temperature checks, social distancing and face coverings for donors and staff.

Donors must be in good health, weigh at least 110 pounds and be at least 17 years old. 

Those who donate June 1-30 are expected to receive a $5 Amazon.com gift card via email, though restrictions apply. For more information on those restrictions, visit RedCrossBlood.org/Together.

Donation appointments are required and can be made by downloading the Red Cross Blood Donor app, visiting RedCrossBlood.org or calling 1-800-RED CROSS, or 1-800-733-2767.

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