Doctors can test for COVID-19 antibody levels in blood donors

Published: Aug. 11, 2021 at 6:15 PM CDT|Updated: Aug. 12, 2021 at 7:59 AM CDT
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NEW ORLEANS (WVUE) - If you’ve donated blood in the last year or so you may have noticed a new test in your file.

Blood donations are a vital part of our healthcare system.

Dr. Tim Peterson, The Blood Center Medical Director, said, “The blood you donate today is what’s available tomorrow.”

That role expanded with the pandemic. Peterson said, “That’s because people that have been infected and recovered from COVID-19, not only have large amounts of spiked antibodies and those are the antibodies that are believed to protect against the actual attachment of the virus to the cells and lung.”

He said convalescent plasma is still an important tool in the fight against COVID, but while only donations from those with a documented case within six months of the donation are used to treat COVID patients, all blood is tested and all donors get the results.

Peterson said, “It’s a courtesy for our donors and it gives them an idea of how their antibody levels.”

Whether from exposure to the virus or the vaccines.

In addition to the typical benefits of blood donation, some doners find the antibody test is an extra bonus.

About three to five days after donation people can see if they tested high, low, or no antibodies on The Blood Center website.

Paul Adams is The Blood Center’s public relations manager. He said, “You can now go and check and see how strong your defense is for coming in contact with the virus again.”

He said the stress score is not a definitive statement on an individual’s susceptibility to COVID. Adams said, “Right, uhm, it helps with that. It also helps just in peace of mind. I work in the medical industry. I got my vaccinations early on, so now I’m able to go and look at those results and see how strong they still are.”

Just a little extra information with the life-saving gift Adams said is beneficial at all times. He said, “Less than an hour of your time can mean the life of somebody else.”

Peterson said, “We just encourage everyone to come be a donor and do everything we can to make a safe and pleasant donation experience. We make it easy.”

To give a little of yourself and maybe find out a little as well. Peterson said the FDA discourages anyone from donating blood just to get test results and if you were to state that as your reason for donating blood you would be refused.

One issue The Blood Center needs help with is safe locations with space for distancing to set up donation sites like churches and schools.

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