WINSTON COUNTY - The American Red Cross is offering local residents not only the opportunity to give blood, but also learn if they have been exposed to COVID-19.
The Red Cross will be in Winston County Thursday, June 18, from 10 a.m. until 3 p.m. at Double Springs Town Hall and in Haleyville Tuesday, June 23, from 10 a.m. until 3 p.m. in the safe room below Haleyville City Hall. All blood types are needed currently, and those who donate will get an added bonus for their donation by receiving COVID-19 antibody testing.
The Red Cross - through an emergency authorization from the U.S. Food and Drug Adminstration - is now testing all donations for COVID-19 antibodies, which will show all donors if they have been exposed to the virus. The antibody testing will indicate if the donor’s immune system has produced antibodies to COVID-19, regardless of whether they developed symptoms.
Donations will be tested using samples pulled at the time of the donation and sent to a testing laboratory, where they will undergo routine infectious disease testing. It should be noted that a positive antibody test does not necessarily confirm infection or immunity. Also, the Red Cross will not be testing donors to diagnose COVID-19.
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.
“As an organization dedicated to helping others, the Red Cross is pleased to provide more information about COVID-19 to our valued donors,” Dr. Erin Goodhue, executive medical director of direct patient care with Red Cross Biomedical Services, said. “If you are feeling healthy and well, please schedule an appointment to not only help save lives, but also learn about your potential exposure to COVID-19.”
In addition, persons who have fully recovered from COVID-19 can donate their plasma, which is rich in antibodies and may be useful in treating the sickest COVID-19 patients. In late March, the FDA announced a new initiative to collect plasma from those who have recovered from COVID-19 and, since that time, the Red Cross, the FDA and the Red Cross’ industry partners have been working to establish a process to identify, qualify and collect convalescent plasma safely from recovered patients. Eligible donors must have had a positive COVID-19 diagnosis, but are now or have been symptom free for at least 28 days prior to making a donation or symptom free for at least 14 days prior to donation and have a negative COVID-19 test result.
According to the FDA, it is not currently known if convalescent plasma will be an effective treatment against COVID-19, but since there are no known effective treatments at this time, multiple options are under investigation by the scientific community. Some information suggests that convalescent plasma could help some COVID-19 patients, especially those who are seriously ill. Since plasma transfusions are generally safe for most patients, the FDA announced an initiative to investigate this as a treatment option.
Donor eligibility forms are available online at https://www.redcrossblood.org/donate-blood/dlp/plasma-donations-from-recovered-covid-19-patients.html#donorform.
According to a joint press release by the American Red Cross, America’s Blood Centers and AABB, blood centers throughout the nation are reporting their blood supplies to be at the lowest levels they have been since the COVID-19 pandemic began. These issues combined with the typical increase in the need for blood donors each summer makes the need to donate all the more critical.
Blood donors typically need to be at least 17-years-old, weigh at least 110 lbs., be in good health and feel well.
The Red Cross is following very strict guidelines from the Centers for Disease Control when conducting blood drives, along with the agency’s own high standards for blood collection. Some of the rules are:
• All donors are required to wear a face covering or mask. If a donor does not have one, a mask will be provided.
• All donors will have their temperatures checked as they enter the blood drive area. All staff members undergo health assessments prior to being allowed to work at a blood drive, as well.
• Social distancing is being practiced, with spacing between donor beds, as well as in waiting and refreshment areas.
As a thank you, all donors will receive a $5 Amazon gift card for their donation.
For more information on donating blood, please visit www.redcrossblood.org.
See complete story in the Northwest Alabamian.