LifeSouth Community Blood Centers leads the way in antibody testing of recovered COVID-19 patients to identify possible convalescent plasma donors.

 On April 1, the Food and Drug Administration announced the importance of plasma donated from recovered COVID-19 patients as a critical tool to help those patients severely affected by the virus. LifeSouth moved swiftly to acquire the necessary equipment from Ortho Clinical Diagnostics and implemented a protocol to test those who have recovered from COVID-19.

 The first tests were conducted on individuals in Gainesville, Florida. who thought they may have had the virus but were now symptom free. One donor did test positive for the antibodies and became LifeSouth’s first convalescent plasma donor on April 16. LifeSouth delivered the donated plasma to a local hospital for a patient in need.

 “As a local community blood center, we are fortunate to have the talent and resources to be able to implement the antibody test quickly and start collecting convalescent plasma to help the patients who need it most,” LifeSouth CEO Nancy Eckert said. “This could mean life or death to those suffering. Our hospitals and the patients in the communities we serve are our highest priority.”

 Since the first donation on April 16, LifeSouth has collected convalescent plasma from donors across the organization’s footprint in Florida, Georgia and Alabama. These units have been transfused to critically ill patients in local hospitals served by the community blood center.

 The test used by the community blood center indicates if the person has been exposed to the virus and has developed antibodies against it, which may mean the person at least has some immunity to the coronavirus. This test is unlike a test used to diagnose an active COVID-19 infection.

 LifeSouth continues to ask individual who have tested positive for COVID-19 and fully recovered or those who feel they may have had the virus, but have recovered, to visit lifesouth.org/covid-19 if interested in donating convalescent plasma.

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