Blood Bank of Delmarva conducting COVID antibody tests

Blood Bank of Delmarva phlebotomists collect blood in Dover’s collection center at 221 Saulsbury Road. (Submitted photo/Blood Bank of Delmarva)

DOVER — Blood Bank of Delmarva donors are tested for the presence of more than 10 infectious diseases upon arrival.

And now COVID-19 is among the ones on the list.

Until Jan. 31, the Blood Bank of will conduct coronavirus antibody testing for donors. The COVID-19 antigen checks began Dec. 14 and were cited as a potential driver for an ample amount of donations.

“Blood Bank of Delmarva saw an increase in blood donations, particularly when looking at numbers for December,” said Donor Services Technical Operations Director Rachele Allison. “We actually exceeded our goal during the challenging holiday season and this could be due to the enthusiasm for the antibody test that we are currently offering at all donor locations.

“We are happy to provide this service to our dedicated donors through January 31 and appreciate their commitment to save lives in the new year.

“Blood donations are extremely important throughout the year to maintain our essential product inventory and enables Blood Bank of Delmarva to consistently meet the blood product needs of the hospitals that we serve.”

According to BBD spokesman Tony Prado, “The boost came in our donor centers, thankfully, while our mobile blood drive numbers continue to lag behind because of COVID-19 restrictions. We can’t thank our hospital partners enough for their help (in promotion), and thanks also goes to all the donors who came out and donated, particularly during the challenging holiday time frame.”

“Delmarva residents always come through for us.”

The numbers were a tremendous boost from BBD’s perspective:

• December goal – 6,000, actual – 6,378, 106% of goal

• Donor centers goal – 3,400, actual – 4,707 or 139% of goal

• Mobile goal – 2,600, actual – 1,671 or 64% of goal

Blood and platelet donations are tested for antibodies to COVID-19.

“As a blood donor, if your antibody test is positive, the plasma component from your blood donation may be processed into convalescent plasma, which is currently used to help hospitalized COVID-19 patients recover,” Mr. Prado said.

“Your red cells or platelets will also be used for patients in need. A letter with your antibody test results will be mailed to you within two weeks of your donation.”

Walk-ins at donor sites can be done, though pre-visit scheduling is highly encouraged, Mr. Prado said.

“We ask donors first and foremost to only schedule an appointment if they are feeling healthy and well, have no cold or flu-like symptoms and do not have a fever,” Mr. Prado said.

“Having said that, we take donors’ temperatures as soon as they walk in the door – be it at our donor centers or our mobile blood drives. This is taken care of either by staff or trained volunteers, who incidentally are all wearing masks and have performed their own temperature checks and health screenings prior to reporting to work.”

If laboratory testing elicits a positive COVID-19 result, the plasma component from your blood donation may be processed into convalescent plasma, which is currently used to help hospitalized COVID-19 patients recover, Mr. Prado said.

“This applies particularly to our most common donation, i.e. whole blood,” Mr. Prado said. “Whole blood is separated in the Components Lab into red blood cells, plasma and platelets, i.e. the main components of blood. Your red cells or platelets will also be used for patients in need as usual. Nothing changes there.”

For those who test positive for COVID-19, a letter with their antibody results will be mailed to them within two weeks after the donation, according to the BBD.

Donation center locations and contact information in Delaware includes:

Dover, 221 Saulsbury Road, 1-888-825-6638.

Newark, Christiana Center, 100 Hygeia Drive, 1-888-825-6638

Reach staff writer Craig Anderson at 741-8296 or canderson@newszap.com.


Helpful Coronavirus links

Delaware Division of Health Coronavirus Page
CDC: About the Coronavirus Disease 2019
CDC: What to do if You Are Sick
Johns Hopkins Coronavirus Resource Center
AP News Coronavirus Coverage
Reopening Delaware: Resources for Businesses
Delaware Phase 2 guidance

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