Since the COVID-19 pandemic has started, there has been a nationwide blood storage. Now there is concern about the supply of antibody convalescent plasma.
A blood drive in St. Joseph on Thursday looked to address both of those concerns.
The drive was held at the Knights of Columbus hall on Mitchell Avenue. Participants also could be tested for COVID-19 antibodies. That process is designed to find potential donors for COVID-19 convalescent plasma, which is used to treat COVID-19 hospital patients.
Chelsey Smith, outreach and communications coordinator for the Community Blood Center, said there has been a blood shortage since the pandemic started, and there is a need for blood, platelets, plasma and antibody convalescent plasma used on COVID-19 patients.
“As COVID cases are continuing to be high throughout all of our regions, we continue to see a really high need for convalescent plasma and we don’t have enough of it coming in,” Smith said.
This blood drive was an opportunity for people to see if they have antibodies and are able to donate plasma, as Smith said many don’t experience symptoms of COVID-19.
“I was curious if possibly I have had it and didn’t know it. I know a lot of people that haven’t had symptoms that have had it,” said Amber Wahlgren, who had her blood drawn Thursday.
Smith said this is an unusually long period of time to be in a blood shortage and the demand continues to be high. She said officials are ensuring safety throughout the pandemic when taking blood.
Hillary Dennis, an ER nurse at Saint Luke’s Hospital said she sees the impact of COVID-19 every day as well as how much blood is needed for patients. Once she had the opportunity to donate, she knew it was something she would do.
“I believe giving blood is very important and there is a big shortage,” Dennis said. “Being an ER nurse we give it a lot, so it’s a needed thing. That’s why I came out today.”
Mosaic Life Care has been using antibody plasma as one of its primary treatments along with Remdesivir and Dexamethasone.
The Community Blood Center continues to provide antibody tests as part of blood donations and will be holding drives at various locations throughout the month.