For a limited time, the American Red Cross has resumed testing all blood, platelet and plasma donations for COVID-19 antibodies. Plasma from routine donations that have high levels of COVID-19 antibodies may be used as convalescent plasma to help meet the needs of COVID-19 patients with weakened immune systems.
At the same time, the Red Cross blood supply remains vulnerable, and individuals are urged to schedule a blood or platelet donation. In the days and weeks ahead, it’s critically important the Red Cross maintains a readily available blood supply so hospital patients can receive the care they need. To make an appointment, use the Red Cross Blood Donor App, visit RedCrossBlood.org or call 1-800-RED CROSS (1-800-733-2767).
The Red Cross first tested donations for COVID-19 antibodies earlier in the pandemic to provide convalescent plasma for patients. When infection rates decreased and new treatment options became available, the Red Cross discontinued the program. With the surge of new variants, hospitals began to seek out more treatments for their most vulnerable patients, and new clinical trial data has shown that convalescent plasma may benefit immunocompromised patients. The Red Cross is resuming this program to ensure doctors have every tool available to support treatment.
How it works
Antibody testing will indicate if the donor’s immune system has produced antibodies to this coronavirus following vaccination or infection, regardless of whether they developed symptoms. Donations will be tested using samples pulled at the time of donation and sent to a testing laboratory where they will also undergo routine infectious disease testing. A positive antibody test result does not confirm infection or immunity.
COVID-19 antibody test results will be available 1-2 weeks after donation in the Red Cross Blood Donor App or donor portal at RedCrossBlood.org.
The Red Cross is not testing donors to diagnose illness, referred to as a diagnostic test.
Blood drive safety
Each Red Cross blood drive and donation center follows a high level of safety and infection control, and additional precautions – including face masks for donors and staff, regardless of vaccination status – have been implemented to help protect the health of all those in attendance. Donors are asked to schedule an appointment prior to arriving at the drive.
Save time during donation
Donors can also save up to 15 minutes at the blood drive by completing a RapidPass®. With RapidPass®, donors complete the pre-donation reading and health history questionnaire online, on the day of donation, from a mobile device or computer. To complete a RapidPass®, follow the instructions at RedCrossBlood.org/RapidPass or use the Red Cross Blood Donor App.
To donate blood, individuals need to bring a blood donor card or driver’s license or two other forms of identification that are required at check-in. Individuals who are 17 years of age in most states (16 with parental consent where allowed by state law), weigh at least 110 pounds and are in generally good health may be eligible to donate blood. High school students and other donors 18 years of age and younger also must meet certain height and weight requirements.
About the American Red Cross
The American Red Cross shelters, feeds and provides comfort to victims of disasters; supplies about 40% of the nation’s blood; teaches skills that save lives; distributes international humanitarian aid; and supports veterans, military members and their families. The Red Cross is a nonprofit organization that depends on volunteers and the generosity of the American public to deliver its mission. For more information, please visit redcross.org or CruzRojaAmericana.org, or visit us on Twitter at @RedCross.