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Red Cross tests donations for COVID-19 antibodies

The American Red Cross is now testing for the presence of COVID-19 antibodies in all blood, platelet and plasma donations.

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The American Red Cross is now testing for the presence of COVID-19 antibodies in all blood, platelet and plasma donations.

Red Cross officials said there has been an urgent need for blood donations since the beginning of the pandemic, and donors can now learn if they've been exposed to the coronavirus.

The test won't diagnose an illness or confirm whether a person has immunity. But officials said antibodies could help save the life of a critically ill COVID-19 patient.

"The Red Cross, for several weeks now, has been taking what's called convalescent plasma from individuals that did know they had the coronavirus," said Mary Brant, of the Red Cross. "They went through it, they recovered, and they were donating convalescent plasma."

Testing will continue through the summer, with results available in seven to 10 days online.

"And also, it will help us over the long run as we work with local and federal health organizations to get a better handle on total numbers of who has been exposed to the disease," Brant said.

Donation appointments can be made at redcrossblood.org or by calling 800-RED-CROSS.