LifeServe & ISU Veterinary Diagnostic Laboratory Partner to Test Blood Donations for COVID-19 Antibodies

DES MOINES, Iowa (September 14, 2020) – LifeServe Blood Center is coordinating a new process with Iowa State University’s Veterinary Diagnostic Laboratory to test every unit of donated blood for COVID-19 antibodies in an effort to help understand the spread of the virus among the healthy population. This test is looking for previous exposure to COVID-19 from individuals who are now healthy and symptom free. It is not a test to determine if someone has an active case of COVID-19.    

“This is a great step in helping to understand the spread of COVID-19 across the state.  In partnership with Iowa State University’s Veterinary Diagnostic Lab, every volunteer blood donor who consents to this testing will be able to receive a free COVID-19 antibody test as a part of the normal blood donation process,” said Danielle West, LifeServe’s Director of PR and Marketing. “Positive test results will be provided to Iowa’s Public Health Department for further research and investigation to understand the impact of the virus among a healthy subset of the population.”

COVID-19 antibody testing will also be used to identify individuals who can provide convalescent plasma for critically ill COVID-19 patients. Convalescent plasma has become a critical component to the treatment protocol for seriously ill COVID-19 patients. A national program, funded by BARDA (Biomedical Advanced Research and Development Authority) has been created to increase the amount of convalescent plasma collected across the country.

“Convalescent plasma has made an incredible impact on our treatment options of COVID-19 at UnityPoint Health – ?Des Moines,” says Dr. Leyla Best, an infectious specialist at UnityPoint Health. “Convalescent plasma is readily available to us when needed for our hospitalized patients and has also helped other patients around the country. The addition of antibody testing on all donors is a significant step in this continued care.” Dr. Best noted several studies showcasing the successes of convalescent plasma in survival and oxygenation rates in hospitalized COVID-19 patients.

COVID-19 antibody test results will be available in a blood donor’s secure LifeServe Blood Center online profile 5-7 days after their blood donation. This is not a diagnostic test. Those who are feeling unwell or who are exhibiting symptoms are not eligible to donate blood. If individuals suspect they have COVID-19, they must cancel their blood donation appointment and contact their primary care provider. Only individuals who are healthy, volunteer blood donors are eligible for antibody testing.

To help ensure the safety of LifeServe team members and other blood donors during the pandemic, several precautionary measures have been put into place to ensure a safe environment. Blood donation appointments are required. Walk-in donors cannot be accepted. Schedule a blood donation appointment online at lifeservebloodcenter.org or call 800.287.4903.

Individuals who have previously had COVID-19 and fully recovered and/or who have previously tested positive for the COVID-19 antibody are encouraged to donate convalescent plasma. Individuals can enter this special donation program by clicking here.