INDIANAPOLIS – Blood donation centers Versiti and the American Red Cross are now testing all donations for COVID-19 antibodies. The goal is to obtain more convalescent plasma donations to treat current COVID-19 patients.
The FDA recently issued emergency authorization for this treatment.
Convalescent plasma is from blood of people who recovered from coronavirus.
But, like blood donations, convalescent plasma is in limited supply, and it has to come from human donors.
“First we supply convalescent plasma to hospitals that we serve locally, and then we send it across the United States,” said Penny Schroeder, Versiti Area Vice President and Director of Donor Services. “The need is continuous for convalescent plasma, and it just depends what area of the country is experiencing surges in coronavirus infections.”
After the initial blood donation, Versiti says 56 days later a donor can make their first plasma donation.
Plasma can be donated weekly for 12 weeks; blood is checked midway through to make sure the donor still has antibodies.
“If you’re positive for the antibodies, you’ll get a letter from us asking to contact us if you’re interested in donating convalescent plasma,” Schroeder explained. “Then we have a person that is a study coordinator, and they will talk through the person, make sure they have the needed levels of antibodies.”
Tests to determine antibodies are 100 percent accurate.
If a blood donation is positive for antibodies, that means the donor had a possible previous exposure to the virus that causes COVID-19 and developed antibodies. It does not guarantee immunity to COVID-19 moving forward or that the donor can’t infect others.
Anyone with antibodies should talk with their doctor about what that means.
The antibody test is performed on all Versiti and Red Cross donations, and it’s free.
Click here for more information about donating to Versiti Blood Center.