Record-breaking cold and winter storms across much of the U.S. has forced the cancellation of hundreds of American Red Cross blood drives in 30 states and caused more than 21,000 blood and platelet donations to go uncollected. The Red Cross is urging healthy individuals, especially those with type O blood, to give now to ensure blood products are available for patient emergencies when help can’t wait.
Every day thousands of patients rely on lifesaving blood donations. The need for blood is constant, even during snowstorms and the COVID-19 pandemic. To help ensure lifesaving patient care isn’t impacted, individuals in areas unaffected by severe weather are urged to make appointments to donate by downloading the Red Cross Blood Donor App, visiting RedCrossBlood.org, calling 1-800-RED CROSS (1-800-733-2767) or enabling the Blood Donor Skill on any Alexa Echo device.
The Red Cross is testing blood, platelet and plasma donations for COVID-19 antibodies. The test may indicate if the donor’s immune system has produced antibodies to this coronavirus, regardless of whether an individual developed COVID-19 symptoms. Red Cross antibody tests will be helpful to identify individuals who have COVID-19 antibodies and may now help current coronavirus patients in need of convalescent plasma transfusions. Convalescent plasma is a type of blood donation collected from COVID-19 survivors that have antibodies that may help patients who are actively fighting the virus. Plasma from whole blood donations that test positive for high levels of COVID-19 antibodies may be used to help COVID-19 patients.
COVID-19 antibody test results will be available within one to two weeks in the Red Cross Blood Donor App or donor portal at RedCrossBlood.org. A positive antibody test result does not confirm infection or immunity. The Red Cross is not testing donors to diagnose illness, referred to as a diagnostic test. To protect the health and safety of Red Cross staff and donors, it is important that individuals who do not feel well or believe they may be ill with COVID-19 postpone donation.
American Red Cross blood drives coming up in Mower County include a drive on Friday, February 26th at Our Savior’s Lutheran Church from 9:00 a.m. to 3:00 p.m., at the Hormel Historic Home in Austin on March 5th from 9:00 a.m. to 2:00 p.m. and at Gravity Storm Brewery in Austin on March 9th from 1:00-7:00 p.m. Other blood drives in Mower County will be held in Grand Meadow at Grand Meadow Schools on March 12th from 11:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m., and in LeRoy at the Community Center on March 11th from noon-6:00 p.m.