Local non-profit blood center, Blood Assurance, will be offering testing for COVID-19 antibodies to blood donors for a limited time beginning Friday, June 26.
“We are excited to offer coronavirus antibody testing to all area donors in order to help collect information about exposure to coronavirus in our area,” said Dr. Liz Culler, medical director at Blood Assurance. “Much is still unknown about the antibodies to coronavirus. These results will contribute to our knowledge. Everyone regardless of the results should continue to take all CDC recommended steps to protect yourself and others including wearing a mask, social distancing and washing your hands often.”
Donors need to be aware this is not a diagnostic test for COVID-19 infection and if they believe they may be currently infected to please not give blood and instead consider visiting a healthcare provider. It is possible for this test to provide a falsely negative or falsely positive result and not all people make antibodies when exposed to COVID-19. What a positive test indicates is that the donor may currently have or previously had COVID-19 and have developed antibodies to the virus. Blood Assurance also encourages anybody who receives a positive test to continue taking all CDC recommended steps to protect themselves and others from the infection by wearing a mask, social distancing and frequently washing hands. It is currently unknown if the presence of these antibodies will protect the body from contracting COVID-19 again or how long the antibodies remain in the blood.
Blood Assurance is encouraging anyone who thinks they may have had COVID-19 to come in and be tested. The antibodies produced by individuals who have recovered from the virus are critical in a treatment combatting COVID-19. Donors with these antibodies present can donate convalescent plasma to patients suffering in the hospital. The antibody rich plasma could be the difference between life and death for a patient in need. If you have been officially diagnosed with COVID-19, have been symptom free for at least fourteen days and are able to pass all regular blood donation requirements, you could save lives. If you meet these requirements and would like to donate convalescent plasma, please visit bloodassurance.org/covidplasma.
Blood Assurance is continuing to take extra precautions at this time to ensure the safety of donors and staff. Staff are wearing masks and frequently disinfecting all items and surfaces used by donors. They are also accepting donors by appointment only and these appointments are being spaced apart to ensure adequate distance. Blood Assurance is also asking all donors to please wear a mask at their next donation. Masks will be provided for donors if they do not have one with them. Blood donation is essential to the infrastructure of healthcare and the only way to ensure patients have the blood they need is for people to donate. Blood cannot be manufactured and all blood used in community hospitals is from volunteer donors.
To be eligible to donate blood, you must be at least 17 years old (16 years old with parental consent), weigh 110 pounds or more and be in good health. Donors are asked to drink plenty of fluids — avoiding caffeine — and eat a meal that is rich in iron prior to donating. To schedule an appointment or find a donor center or mobile drive near you, please visit www.bloodassurance.org/schedule, call 800-962-0628 or text ‘BAGIVE’ to 999777.
About Blood Assurance
Blood Assurance is a nonprofit, full-service regional blood center serving more than 70 health care facilities in Tennessee, Georgia, Alabama, and North Carolina. Founded in 1972 as a joint effort of the Chattanooga-Hamilton County Medical Society, the Chattanooga Area Hospital Council and the Chattanooga Jaycees, the mission of Blood Assurance is to provide a safe and adequate supply of blood and blood components to every area patient in need.