LifeShare Blood Center has resumed testing for the presence of COVID-19 antibodies.
Not only is this to encourage donations but also because blood plasma with COVID antibodies present has medicinal properties.
"We've temporarily resumed COVID-19 testing, "said Elizabeth Cunningham, regional director. "Our donors have responded to testing, so to encourage donations, we started another round. Some of the businesses we send our mobile units to specifically requested our testing capabilities, so we are offering it again."
In some cases, some donors want the process because they are unsure whether they have been infected with COVID-19 at some point.
"Those who have gotten COVID will have the antibodies present in their blood for a time," she said. "When we examine it, we will see it if those antibodies are there. That's what our test looks for. When a donor comes in, just a small sample is taken just for the purpose of that testing, in addition to whatever else they are donating that day."
Some donors are concerned the test will be like the swab up the nose they have heard of. Cunningham assures potential donors that is not the case.
"As I said, during the donor process, we take an additional small blood sample in a vial during the donor process," she said. "That is what we examine for the presence of the antibodies."
However, those who are actively sick, be it with COVID-19 or anything else, are told to stay home until they get well.
"We can't take someone who is sick," she said. "As soon as we know you are sick, we will send you home for you to get better. But once you are, please come to us."
As for who sees the results from the testing, Cunningham assures donors that the results are held in-house.
"This is a personal test and only you and LifeShare officials get to see the results," she said. "Once we have the test results, we will let you know."
The results of the test, if they test positive, do not invalidate a donor's efforts.
"On the contrary, we are looking for blood that tests positive," she said. "Those who have COVID-19 antibodies provide us with a product that can help those currently sick with COVID. If we find it in your blood, we will call you and ask you if you want to donate specifically for this purpose. We are one of the few blood centers in the world that is set up for convalescent-plasma services. Those donors will remain on a list and we will call on them as we get through this pandemic."
COVID testing is done at all of LifeShare's facilities, both brick and mortar and mobile units. COVID convalescent-plasma processing is only done at the center at Summerhill at this time.
LifeShare Blood Center is located at 4020 Summerhill Road.