Red Cross offers virus testing for blood donors

People who donate blood to the American Red Cross now will know two things: That they have helped provide a much-­needed product for hospitals and medical pro­fes­sionals and whether or not their blood contains COVID-19 antibodies.

The American Red Cross will provide free COVID-19 tests for anyone who donates, using the donated blood as a sample. The test is authorized by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration and results may indicate if the donor’s immune system has produced antibodies to COVID-19, regardless of whether they developed symptoms.

“Blood donations will be tested using samples obtained at the time of donation and sent to a testing laboratory where the samples also will undergo routine screening and infectious disease testing,” said Tiffany Taylor, external communications mana­ger for the River Valley & Tennessee Valley Regions, which includes Hardin County.

Those who donate blood can view the result of their test on the Red Cross blood donor app or by visiting the donor portal at redcrossblood.org. Results typically are available within seven to 10 days, Taylor said.

In Hardin County, upcoming donation drives will be available at Towne Mall in Elizabethtown, Glendale Christian Church and The State Theater in Elizabethtown. For donation drive dates and times, go to redcrossblood.org.

Appointments must be scheduled before participating in blood donations by using the Red Cross Blood Donor app, going to the Red Cross website or by calling 1-800-RED CROSS.

Amid COVID-19, the American Red Cross has implemented several safety precautions during the blood donation process. According to Taylor, the list includes checking temperatures of staff and donors upon entry; providing hand sanitizer upon entry and throughout the donation process; maintaining social distancing between donors; requiring staff and donors wear face masks throughout the process; routinely sanitizing surfaces, equipment and donor-touched areas; wearing gloves and changing them often and using sterile collection sets and an aseptic scrub for every donation.

Taylor said an urgent need exists for blood donations as many blood drives organized by businesses and community organizations have been canceled amid coronavirus closures. She said the demand for blood products among hospitals has increased by 30 percent after a significant decline in donations in April.

“The Red Cross has an urgent need for blood donations to prevent another blood shortage as hospitals resume surgical procedures and patient treatments that were temporarily paused earlier this spring in response to the COVID-19 pandemic,” she said. “ ... There is no known end date in this fight against coronavirus and the Red Cross urgently needs the help of donors and blood drive hosts to ensure blood products are readily available for patients.”

Andrew Critchelow can be reached at 270-505-1746 or acritchelow@thenewsenterprise.com.

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