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Red Cross testing donated blood for COVID

Photo submitted to the Times Observer Cathy Plewinski is pictured recently donating blood. The American Red Cross said it is testing all donated blood for the coronavirus.

Donating blood can be a two-for-one event — saving lives and finding out if the donor has had COVID-19.

The American Red Cross is testing all donated blood for the coronavirus.

“The Red Cross is currently testing all blood, platelet, and plasma donations for COVID-19 antibodies to help provide our valued donors insight into whether they may have been exposed to this coronavirus,” Red Cross NY-Penn Region Communications Manager Katie Potter said. “Blood, platelet, and plasma donations will be tested using samples obtained at the time of donation and sent to a testing laboratory where the samples will also undergo routine screening and infectious disease testing. Donors have been pleased to have access to this additional information.”

“The Red Cross hopes testing for COVID-19 antibodies will provide our valued donors insight — into whether they may have been exposed to this coronavirus,” Potter said. “We recognize that individuals and public health organizations desire more information about COVID-19, and as an organization dedicated to helping others, the Red Cross is fortunate to be able to step up to help during this pandemic.”

Although it doesn’t cost blood donors anything, the testing is not free.

“The Red Cross is rallying the support of generous financial donors to target funding toward this effort which we hope will fuel this program,” she said. “Our ability to continue antibody testing will be largely dependent on available funding and the evolving needs of this pandemic.”

Donors who have recovered from COVID-19 should look into a particular type of donation.

“If a donor learns that they have COVID-19 antibodies, they may be able to give convalescent plasma,” Potter said. “COVID-19 convalescent plasma is a type of blood donation collected from individuals who have recovered from COVID-19 and contains antibodies that might help patients actively fighting the virus.”

“Right now, the American Red Cross is distributing convalescent plasma products faster than this type of blood donation is coming in, resulting in an emergency shortage of this potentially lifesaving treatment,” she said.

More information about eligibility and criteria for donating convalescent plasma can be found by visiting redcrossblood.org/eligibility and redcrossblood.org/plasma4covid.

Blood products are needed regardless of the pandemic, but COVID-19 has contributed to an elevated level of need.

“The American Red Cross continues to have an urgent need for blood donations,” Potter said. “As hospitals schedule surgical procedures and treatments that were previously on hold in response to COVID-19, the demand for blood has increased. There is no known end date in this fight against coronavirus.”

“The Red Cross needs the help of blood and platelet donors and blood drive hosts to ensure blood products are readily available for weeks to come,” she said. “In times of crisis, the Red Cross is fortunate to witness the best of humanity as people roll up a sleeve to help those in need.”

Forthcoming drives in Warren County will be held:

¯ Thursday, July 30: 11 a.m. to 4 p.m., at Hampton Inn, Market St., N. Warren;

¯ Monday, Aug. 3: 1 to 6 p.m. at First Presbyterian Church, Market St., Warren; and

¯ Friday, Aug. 7: 11 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. at Clarendon VFD, Clarendon;

Forthcoming drives in Chautauqua County will be held:

¯ Wednesday, July 29: 1 to 8 p.m. at Stanley Hose Company, Park St., Sherman;

¯ Thursday, July 30: 12:30 to 5:30 p.m. at the Jamestown Chapter, E. Fourth St., Jamestown;

¯ Friday, July 31: 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. at Ripley Central School, N. State St., Ripley;

¯ Saturday, Aug. 1: 9 a.m. to 2 p.m. at Dunkirk First Baptist Church, Central Ave., Dunkirk;

¯ Wednesday, Aug. 5: 2 to 8 p.m. at United Methodist Church, E. Main St., Panama;

¯ Thursday, Aug. 6: 12:30 to 5:30 p.m. at the Jamestown Chapter, E. Fourth St., Jamestown;

¯ Friday, Aug. 7: 8 a.m. to 1:30 p.m. at Cassadaga Fire Hall, Mill St., Cassadaga;

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