The American Red Cross is now checking all blood donations for coronavirus antibodies, instead of just searching for recovered patients. The organization is calling it a “game changer.”
“We can then not only inform that donor of the testing results that we've identified COVID-19 antibodies in their blood, but also use that product as convalescent plasma to help patients who are ill with COVID-19 in the hospital,” said Dr. Pampee Young, Chief Medical Officer at the American Red Cross.
Early results from the National Institutes for Health show the plasma can make a big difference for severely sick COVID-19 patients. And data from these new tests will help those researchers working to better understand the virus.
The Red Cross says the need for whole blood donors is constant, but plasma is more unpredictable.
Over the summer, plasma supplies ran low after unprecedented infections and demand in some states.
Now, they're asking more donors to step up to restock for another potential surge in the fall and winter.
“Because we can’t predict the demand, we want to ensure that we have enough inventory, because what really saves lives are the units that are on the shelf, not something that we need to collect once we realize there’s a need,” said Young.
The Red Cross has taken additional safety steps during the pandemic. That includes making an appointment.
You can sign up online at RedCrossBlood.org or by using the blood donor app.