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Red Cross testing donors for COVID-19 antibodies

Submitted photo After donating, COVID-19 antibody results will be made available to the donor via the Red Cross website or the blood donor phone app within 7-14 days of testing.

ELKINS — The American Red Cross has recently begun testing all blood, platelet and plasma donations for COVID-19 antibodies to give donors insight into whether or not they had previously been exposed to the coronavirus.

“Antibody testing will indicate if the donor’s immune system has produced antibodies to this coronavirus, regardless of whether they developed symptoms,” a Red Cross press release states. “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.”

Representatives of Red Cross are stressing that this test is not a diagnosis for COVID-19. Positive antibody test results do not confirm infection or immunity to the virus.

“This is for all of our donors that come in to donate blood, so all donors are tested through this process,” said Adam Reaves of the Greater Alleghenies Region of Red Cross. “We’re not doing a live virus test so anybody who feels they have been exposed or shown symptoms, those are the folks that we want to wait until they’re healthy and to donate at this time.”

“If anybody believes they may be ill, we’ll want to postpone their donation,” said Reaves. “We are asking that all donors make appointments. It helps us prepare and make sure that we’re ready for them. It also helps us maintain social distancing.”

After donating, COVID-19 antibody results will be made available to the donor via the Red Cross website or the blood donor phone app within 7-14 days of testing.

This test benefits both the donors, who will gain more information about their health, but also hospitals that are facing an urgent need for blood donations after blood drives were postponed. The American Red Cross supplies about 40% of the blood that the nation requires.

“We, as well as other collections agencies across the country, have seen an increase (in donations) because people are curious and we want to be able to help try to fill that curiosity,” said Reaves. “We want to continue to encourage new and veteran blood donors alike that if you are well and healthy to don your mask, find an appointment near you (and) come visit us. The need is constant.”

“There’s no end in sight to this pandemic so we are having to adjust and pivot our planning and strategies to continue to meet hospital/patient demand,” he said. “If you’re not sure of you’re eligibility, visit the website, schedule and appointment, come out and talk to us and we’ll work through that and see if somebody is eligible that has not given (blood) before. Then these folks will be able to get that antibody testing and maybe give them some peace of mind.”

An American Red Cross blood drive is set next week in Randolph County. On Monday, June 29, from 12 p.m. to 6 p.m., a drive will take place at the Tygart Valley Volunteer Fire Department.

For more information about upcoming Red Cross events and blood drives, as well as eligibility for blood donation, visit RedCrossBlood.org, call 1-800-REDCROSS, or download the Red Cross blood donor app on a cellular device.

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