Platelet blood
Photograph ©2020 by Brian Cohen.

Free Antibody Status Test Automatically When You Donate Blood

In its commitment to helping others in meaningful ways, the American Red Cross is testing all blood, platelet, and plasma donations for antibodies of the 2019 Novel Coronavirus — effective as of Monday, June 15, 2020 — as an additional health service to its donors free of charge for a limited time, as this testing may provide critical insight into whether donors may have possibly been exposed to the 2019 Novel Coronavirus.

Free Antibody Status Test Automatically When You Donate Blood

Platelet blood
Photograph ©2020 by Brian Cohen.

The test will help you discover your antibody status when you donate blood, platelet, or plasma.

An antibody test screens for antibodies in your blood, which are formed when fighting an infection — like from the 2019 Novel Coronavirus — and assesses whether your immune system has responded to the infection, not if the virus is currently present. The results of your antibody status test will become available in your donor account up to ten days after your donation.

You can also find the results of your mini-physical from the day of your donation by checking into your donor account — including temperature, blood pressure, pulse check, and iron levels — as the American Red Cross tests every blood donation for a variety of illnesses.

The antibody test for the 2019 Novel Coronavirus is authorized by the Food and Drug Administration of the United States; and may indicate if the immune system of the donor has produced antibodies to the 2019 Novel Coronavirus — regardless of whether they developed symptoms.

The antibody status test does not mean that the American Red Cross is testing donors to diagnose illness — including the 2019 Novel Coronavirus. The American Red Cross is using a diagnostic test to testing donors to diagnose illness. Furthermore, positive antibody test results do not confirm infection or immunity; a positive antibody test indicates potential exposure to the 2019 Novel Coronavirus.

If you feel unwell for any reason and believe that you may be ill with the 2019 Novel Coronavirus, please postpone your appointment to donate blood, platelets, or plasma, as you must be free of symptoms for a minimum of 28 days and feeling well and healthy.

What Do the Results of the Antibody Status Test Mean?

Platelet blood
Photograph ©2020 by Brian Cohen.

Blood, platelet and plasma donations will be tested for 2019 Novel Coronavirus antibodies using samples obtained at the time of donation and sent to a laboratory where samples will undergo routine screening and infectious disease testing.

Donors who have been tested for the 2019 Novel Coronavirus antibodies will see one of the following results:

  • POSITIVE indicates that an individual may have had previous exposure to the the 2019 Novel Coronavirus and his or her body has developed specific antibodies to the 2019 Novel Coronavirus.
  • NEGATIVE most likely means that the individual has not been exposed to the 2019 Novel Coronavirus and therefore has not developed antibodies to the 2019 Novel Coronavirus.
  • NOT AVAILABLE means that your test result is not yet available; or your donation was not tested.

Other Articles Pertaining to Donating Platelets

Other articles at The Gate which pertain to donating platelets include:

Summary

If you test positive for antibodies of the 2019 Novel Coronavirus, you may be eligible to take part in the convalescent plasma donation program of the American Red Cross. Whatever are your antibody testing results, your single blood donation is critical to saving lives.

As for what a “limited time” means, the American Red Cross apparently anticipates that antibody testing will be provided throughout the summer months of 2020; and whether it will be able to continue testing will be evaluated over the coming months depends on available funding and the evolving needs of the current 2019 Novel Coronavirus pandemic.

I have heard mixed reactions to this initiative by the American Red Cross: those who support it like knowing whether they have been affected by the 2019 Novel Coronavirus; while those who oppose it are concerned that this is an invasion of privacy. As a person who donates platelets on a regular basis, I am still not sure of how to feel about it at this time.

This question is rarely asked here at The Gate; but what do you think of this initiative by the American Red Cross?

All photographs ©2020 by Brian Cohen.

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