Blood donors tested for COVID-19 antibodies

OKEECHOBEE — If you are in good health and wonder if you might have contracted and recovered from the COVID-19 virus sometime earlier this year, there is a free and easy way to get an antibody test and help save lives in the process: Donate blood.

OneBlood tests all donated blood for COVID-19 antibodies. Donations that contain the antibodies may be used to help patients who are currently suffering from the virus.

“The antibody test is authorized by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) and will indicate if the donor’s immune system has produced antibodies to the virus, regardless of whether they ever showed symptoms. Appointments to donate are required. Masks are required to be worn by all blood donors. You may wear your own or we will provide one for you if needed,” the OneBlood website explains. “To protect our team members and other donors, please do not present to donate if you are not feeling well or have a fever. Please stay home and consider donating once you feel better.”

To find a OneBlood donation center or blood mobile visit near you, go online to oneblood.org.

Donors can check their results online with a login and password provided by OneBlood after donation. Results are available within 48 to 96 hours after donation.

Blood donations continue to be critical to the nation’s health care system even during a pandemic. The top priority of OneBlood is the safety of our donors, team members and blood recipients. Masks are required to be worn by all blood donors. You may wear your own or OneBlood will provide one for you if needed. All blood centers are regulated by the FDA and must follow strict guidelines on how they operate. OneBlood meets all FDA guidelines, and all team members follow strict safety protocols.

• All OneBlood phlebotomists wear masks.
• All OneBlood phlebotomists wear medical gloves that are changed for each donation.
• All donor-touched areas and equipment are disinfected after every donation. This includes, donor beds, registration tablets, blood-pressure cuff and hemoglobin sensors.
• A sterile collection set is used for every donation.
• Every donor receives a mini-physical that includes a temperature check to ensure donors are healthy and well on the day of donation.
• Only people who are healthy are eligible to donate blood.

During blood mobile visits, only a certain number of people will be permitted on the Big Red Bus at any one time. Donors will be asked to provide their cellphone number so they can wait in their car or outside the bloodmobile. They will be called when it is their turn to come aboard the bus to donate blood.

At the donor centers, social distancing is also required. Donors can wait in their car and they will be called when it is their turn to donate.

Donor centers are available in Port St. Lucie, Sebring, Stuart, Cooper City, Boca Raton and Coral Springs.

Blood mobile visits planned in the Lake Okeechobee area include:
• Wednesday, June 24 at Walgreens, 300 W. Sugarland Highway, Clewiston, from 12:30 to 5:30 p.m.
• Saturday, June 27, Walmart, 2101 S. Parrott Ave., Okeechobee, 1:30 to 6:30 p.m.
• Sunday, June 28, Walmart, 2101 S. Parrott Ave., Okeechobee 11 a.m. to 4 p.m.

For more information about OneBlood donations, go online to oneblood.org or call 888-9-DONATE (888-936-6283).

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