ASBP: COVID-19 and Blood Donation
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COVID-19 and Blood Donations

COVID-19 and Blood Donation

The rise of the coronavirus (COVID-19) has resulted in a significant drop in blood donations in the U.S. As the nation continues to fight the COVID-19 pandemic, the Armed Services Blood Program continues to work to fulfill its mission of providing safe and potent blood products to members of the military and their families, and this means adopting new standards and requirements set forth by the Food and Drug Administration and Centers for Disease Control. This page contains information on new safety measures implemented by the ASBP since the advent of COVID-19, information on donating coronavirus convalescent plasma (CCP) to help those fighting the disease, and helpful links from the Department of Defense, FDA, CDC, and more.

COVID-19 Safety Measures

Blood Donations are Safe.

  • Blood donor centers and transfusion services go through rigorous accreditation processes and maintain stringent industry standards. There are many already in-place standards that keep the blood supply safe. From travel and medical deferrals, to vital checks and eligibility requirements on the day of donation, the ASBP's goal of blood safety has always been our number one priority and focus.
  • The FDA has reiterated that there have been no known or reported cases of transfusion-related transmission of coronavirus. In general, respiratory viruses are not known to be transmitted by blood transfusion. There have been no cases of transmission during this or previous coronavirus outbreaks (SARS and MERS).
  • The ASBP is working with hospital transfusion services on blood inventory management strategies to help extend the life of blood products already on the shelves.

Additional Safety Measures Taken for Donors and Staff

  • Staff members wear appropriate personal protective equipment and are screened for general health (temperature check) prior to departing for a blood drive.
  • Groupings — staff and donors — are kept at 10 or less.
  • Blood drives are smaller and more localized.
  • A donor's temperature is taken before they enter the collection area and after they have registered (per standard operating procedure).
  • Social distancing is practiced to the greatest extent possible.
  • There is an increased placement of cleaning products (for donor and staff) for use after leaving each station, and all reusable items used are cleaned.
  • Donation appointments are highly encouraged as to limit the number of donors at a blood drive or center at once. Go to www.militarydonor.com to find a drive near you.

Blood Donor Follow-up Measures:

  • All donors are provided with a CDC factsheet about COVID-19, along with standard donor education material.
  • All donors are given follow-up contact information and reminded to contact the blood donor center if they develop any illness or symptoms in the proceeding 14 days.

Where to Donate:

  • Go to our Be a Blood Donor page.
  • If you have donated before and know your ASBP blood donor center or mobile drive crew, reach out to them directly to find out when a drive is coming up or to schedule an appointment at the center.
  • To find a blood drive near you, please go to www.militarydonor.com and do a simple zip code search to find one within a select mile range.

COVID-19 Antibody Testing

All qualified blood donations taken at Armed Services Blood Program blood donor centers will be tested for COVID-19 antibodies until further notice.

Qualified donations include donors who:
1) have documentation of a COVID-19 positive diagnostic or serological test result;
2) believe they had COVID-19, but have no documentation or confirmed test; or
3) know or believe they've been in contact with someone who had COVID-19.

If this test results in a positive amount of antibodies, the donor will be informed of the results, asked to participate in the COVID-19 convalescent plasma program, and be provided more information about the program. The donor centers do not test people; they test donations. If the donor is looking for a COVID-19 diagnostic test, such as a nasopharyngeal swab, tell them to contact their health care provider.

COVID-19 Convalescent Plasma

The ASBP is actively seeking donors who have fully recovered from COVID-19 to become coronavirus convalescent plasma donors.

What is Convalescent Plasma?

When a person contracts a virus — here, SARS-CoV-2, the virus that causes the disease COVID-19 — their immune system creates antibodies to fight the virus. These antibodies are found in the person's plasma, the liquid part of blood. Plasma with these infection-fighting antibodies is called "convalescent plasma." Through the blood donation process, this plasma is collected from a recovered person and transfused into a sick patient who is still fighting the virus. CCP may boost the immune system of the patient and help with the recovery process.

While it is not known for certain that the treatment will be effective, there is anecdotal evidence that suggests it might. The therapy has been approved by the FDA as an emergency use investigational new drug (eIND) protocol as an option to treat patients suffering from COVID-19.

Eligibility Requirements

To donate convalescent plasma, at a minimum, you must meet basic donation requirements. Along with this, if you have ever been pregnant, additional testing may be needed to determine if you have developed HLA antibodies since your last pregnancy.

To qualify for this program, you must:

  1. Have evidence of COVID-19 documented by a laboratory test, either by:
    1. A diagnostic test (e.g., nasopharyngeal swab) at the time of illness; or
    2. A positive serological test for SARS-CoV-2 antibodies after recovery, if prior diagnostic testing was not performed at the time COVID-19 was suspected.
  2. Have a complete resolution of symptoms at least 14 days before donation. A negative result for COVID-19 by a diagnostic test is not necessary to qualify the donor.

A donor must first contact their local ASBP blood donor center for additional information before coming in, and if qualified, set up an appointment. Once the appointment is confirmed, the donor must bring the required documentation and undergo the standard plasma donation procedure.

Final determination concerning eligibility will be made by the medical director or designee.

Contact your nearest ASBP blood donor center for more information.

ASBP Blood Donor Centers Collecting CCP Via Apheresis and Whole Blood Donations

  • Fort Benning: Sullivan Memorial Blood Center
  • Fort Bliss Blood Donor Center
  • Fort Bragg Blood Donor Center
  • Fort Gordon: Kendrick Memorial Blood Center
  • Fort Hood: Robertson Blood Center
  • Fort Leonard Wood Blood Donor Center
  • Joint Base Lewis-McChord: Armed Services Blood Bank Center-Pacific Northwest
  • Joint Base San Antonio-Fort Sam Houston: Akeroyd Blood Donor Center
  • Joint Base San Antonio-Lackland Blood Donor Center
  • Keesler Air Force Base Blood Donor Center
  • Landstuhl Regional Medical Center: Armed Services Blood Bank Center-Europe
  • Naval Hospital Guam Blood Donor Center
  • Naval Medical Center Camp Lejeune Blood Donor Center**
  • Naval Medical Center Portsmouth Blood Donor Center
  • Naval Medical Center San Diego Blood Donor Center
  • Naval Station Great Lakes: Blood Donor Processing Division
  • Pentagon Blood Donor Center (Only open Fridays)
  • Tripler Army Medical Center Blood Donor Center
  • U.S. Pacific Command Armed Services Blood Bank Center*
  • Walter Reed National Military Medical Center: Blood Services
  • Wright-Patterson Blood Donor Center*

*ASBP blood donor centers collecting CCP only via whole blood donations
**ASBP blood donor centers collecting CCP only via apheresis

Helpful Links

Below are helpful links to learn about COVID-19 and the guidance we have taken to ensure donor and staff safety during blood donation.

CDC - Guidance for Blood Plasma Facilities
https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/hcp/blood-and-plasma-collection.html

FDA - Donate COVID-19 Plasma
https://www.fda.gov/emergency-preparedness-and-response/coronavirus-disease-2019-covid-19/donate-covid-19-plasma

AABB's Coronavirus Resources
http://www.aabb.org/advocacy/regulatorygovernment/Pages/AABB-Coronavirus-Resources.aspx

Military Health System - Coronavirus
https://health.mil/Military-Health-Topics/Combat-Support/Public-Health/Coronavirus

ASBP Coronavirus Articles
DoD Launches Effort To Collect COVID-19 Convalescent Plasma
ASBP Seeking Plasma Donors to Fight COVID-19
Blood Donors Urged to Continue Giving Lifesaving Donations
FDA Urging People to Donate Blood to Ensure Adequate Blood Supply
In This Together: Military Couple Recovers From COVID-19, Donates Convalescent Plasma
Fort Gordon's First COVID-19 Convalescent Plasma Donor Gives BackFDA Urging People to Donate Blood to Ensure Adequate Blood Supply

ASBP Coronavirus PDFs
COVID-19 & Blood Donation Safety
COVID-19 & Convalescent Plasma
Now Testing for COVID-19 Antibodies FAQ

Donate Convalescent Plasma

Defense Health Agency:
https://www.dvidshub.net/video/759267/convalescent-plasma-donation-psa-featuring-lt-general-place

Army:
https://www.dvidshub.net/video/757057/covid-19-convalescent-plasma-donors-needed

Air Force:
https://www.dvidshub.net/video/758899/covid-19-update-convalescent-plasma-therapy

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