Versiti BloodCenter of Wisconsin has announced that the SARS CoV-2 antibody test will be performed on all donations as part of standard testing including at a drive scheduled Sept. 24 in Tomah. Officials said the test will continue to fight the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic with the help of donors.
Versiti BloodCenter of Wisconsin is the sole supplier of blood to nearly 50 hospitals in Wisconsin including Tomah Health.
The antibody test will be performed on all successful donations at every Versiti blood center and blood drive. Officials said the test will be done automatically on tubes that are collected as part of the donation, in addition to Food and Drug Administration mandated infectious disease testing for all blood donations Versiti already performs. Officials said the test will inform donors if they have antibodies reflective of a prior COVID-19 infection and is not to inform donors if they currently have COVID-19. Donors with these antibodies may be eligible to donate COVID-19 convalescent plasma (CCP), a special type of donation used to treat sick patients fighting COVID.
Versiti officials have confirmed that the antibody test will be available for the Tomah Health / Versiti blood drive Sept. 24, however due to the overwhelming interest, all appointments are currently filled for the drive scheduled from noon – 5 p.m. in the Recreation Building at Tomah Recreation Park. “We had over 60 generous donors from our last drive sign up to donate again at this drive, so while we have a constant need for blood donations, we are unable to schedule anymore donors for Sept. 24,” Versiti BloodCenter account representative Emalea Cogdill said.
The drive location was moved from Tomah Health due to continued COVID-19 visitor restrictions at the hospital. "We are extremely thankful to the Tomah Parks & Recreation Department for use of the Recreation Building for this drive," said Tomah Health marketing & public relations director Eric Prise. He said extra safeguards will be in place to protect donors and staff. Prise said no walk ins will be accepted during this drive.
Prise also said that BloodCenter officials want to remind the public that the blood donation process itself poses no risk of infecting a donor with coronavirus.
Because of the overwhelming interest in Tomah Health blood drives, officials are looking to hold two-day events for future drives. “We have such a large donor pool here in Tomah that is always so generous to give at the drives, that we realize that we need to provide donors with more opportunities to donate so looking into the future, especially in the fall and winter, we are going to look at two-day blood drives,” said Cogdill.
The next Tomah Health blood drive is tentatively scheduled Nov. 19 & 20.
Donors looking for more information regarding the antibody test are urged to visit www.versiti.org/home/coronavirus-information#FAQs