Blood Assurance to suspend plasma collections and COVID-19 antibody testing

Blood Assurance, the local nonprofit blood supplier, will be suspending convalescent plasma collections and COVID-19 antibody testing starting Thursday due to increased vaccine rates, already having a healthy stockpile for patients in need, and the increased demand for all other blood donations such as whole blood, platelets and plasma.

All donors are currently being tested for COVID-19 antibodies and any donor who would like the COVID-19 antibody test has until Thursday to give blood and be tested. Blood Assurance will be able to resume convalescent plasma collections and antibody testing if needed in the future. Right now, the main focus for Blood Assurance is to increase collections of whole blood, platelets and plasma. All convalescent plasma donors are highly encouraged to continue to give with Blood Assurance in the form of whole blood, platelets or plasma.

“If things change, we will start collecting convalescent plasma again, but for now the country has a significant stockpile so we no longer need to collect it.,” said Dr. Liz Culler, medical director at Blood Assurance. “Even though we are not collecting convalescent plasma at this time, we are still highly encouraging the community to give whole blood, regular plasma and platelets for our area patients in need. Our focus needs to be on the current hospital demand and the shortage of all other crucial donations.”

Blood Assurance is still experiencing low donor turnout and has been in critical need of several types consistently during the past year. It, like many blood banks across the country, is reporting its lowest donor turnout since the pandemic began. This is creating a shortage because many people are resuming travel and normal activities. Blood Assurance is asking all eligible donors including those who previously gave convalescent plasma to give blood now to help keep the supply at adequate levels.

For more information about Blood Assurance, its giveaways, blood donation and how it helps area patients, please visit bloodassurance.org. An appointment to give blood can be scheduled by visiting bloodassurance.org/schedule, calling (800) 962-0628 or by texting BAGIVE to 999777.

Blood Assurance is continuing to take extra precautions at this time to ensure the safety of donors and staff. Staff and donors are required to wear masks, and staff are frequently disinfecting all items and surfaces used by donors.

Blood donation is essential to the infrastructure of healthcare and the only way to ensure patients have the blood they need is for people to donate. Blood cannot be manufactured, and all blood used in community hospitals is from volunteer donors. Donors who have received a Moderna, Pfizer or Johnson & Johnson vaccine are eligible to donate blood with no waiting period. Blood donated by individuals who have received the vaccine is completely safe for patient transfusion.

To be eligible to donate blood, you must be at least 17 years old (16 years old with parental consent), weigh 110 pounds or more and be in good health. Donors are asked to drink plenty of fluids — avoiding caffeine — and eat a meal that is rich in iron prior to donating. To schedule an appointment or find a center or drive near you, please visit www.bloodassurance.org/schedule, call (800) 962-0628 or text BAGIVE to 999777.

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