Donation program

Blood Assurance Restores Tennessee Donation Program

Blood Assurance announced Monday morning that it would resume voluntary COVID-19 antibody testing and collection of convalescent plasma in a bid to help those fighting the virus.

The practice, which has since returned to the network of collection centers, has been restored due to the recent increase in COVID-19 cases. Blood Assurance ended the practice in April.

The organization is restarting the program as it continues to keep hospitals and medical centers equipped with a constant supply of blood despite a drop in donations in recent months.

Following:“Help Save Lives:” Blood Assurance Encourages Donations As Virus Wave Fuels Shortage

“Blood Assurance believes it is important to offer COVID-19 antibody testing to community blood donors,” said Dr. Liz Culler, Chief Medical Officer of Blood Assurance, in a press release. “Donors who have antibodies to COVID-19 and who are eligible to donate plasma have the potential to save the lives of patients who overwhelm our hospitals. “

Convalescent plasma therapy is a Food and Drug Administration approved investigative treatment where plasma is transfused from a recovered COVID-19 donor to a critically ill patient.

Dr. Liz Culler is the Chief Medical Officer of Blood Assurance.

Plasma from recovered individuals contains antibodies that could continue to attack the virus in another compatible patient.

Donated blood, previously exposed to the virus, contains proteins that help actively fight the virus, while preventing or slowing the spread.

The nonprofit, which serves healthcare facilities in Tennessee, Georgia, Alabama, Virginia and North Carolina with a supply of donated blood, platelets and plasma, said it would be the only blood transfusion center in the region to provide life-saving services.

COVID-19 survivor Stokes Nielson became the first person in Middle Tennessee to donate plasma under the COVID-19 Convalescent Plasma program with Tennessee's own blood insurance in April 2020. He made the donation in Honoring the memory of country star Joe Diffie, who recently passed away due to complications from COVID-19.

In Colombia, doctors at Maury Regional Medical Center said the hospital’s intensive care unit was full due to a new wave of hospitalizations due to variants of COVID-19. The vast majority of new patients are not vaccinated against the virus.

Pulmonary and intensive care specialist Dr Brett Norman of Maury Regional said on Friday that open beds in intensive care units were scarce in Tennessee.

Following:“The best way to give us a break”: Maury’s regional doctor on vaccinations

Following:Access threatened: hospitals encourage vaccination as beds fill up

People who donate blood, whether on a mobile or in a facility, will have the option of being tested for antibodies. If antibodies are found, the donor will be notified within two weeks, paving the way for a voluntary donation of convalescent plasma to help those battling the virus.

The investigational treatment may provide passive immunity to some COVID-19 patients.

The antibody test offered by Blood Assurance only identifies donors who make antibodies in response to COVID-19 infection in recent months. It does not detect antibodies made in response to the vaccine, the organization said.

How to donate with Blood Assurance

Blood Assurance said it was the sole supplier of blood and blood products, such as plasma, to more than 70 medical facilities across the region, including Columbia’s Maury Regional Medical Center.

Blood Assurance has 11 fixed locations and 13 Bloodmobiles in operation in five states in the southeastern United States.

It was founded in 1972 as a joint effort of the Chattanooga-Hamilton County Medical Society, the Chattanooga Area Hospital Council, and the Chattanooga Jaycees, also known as the Junior Chamber of Commerce.

Blood Assurance processes each sample and sends the donated plasma to hospitals where it will be administered to patients in need.

Blood Assurance also pointed out that the FDA explicitly allows donors who have received an approved COVID-19 vaccine to donate blood, provided they are in good health and meet all eligibility criteria for donating blood.

Donors can book an appointment online at bloodassurance.org/schedule, or by calling 800-962-0628, or texting BAGIVE at 999777. Walk-in visits will be accepted.

The Columbia Blood Insurance Center is located at 1412 Trotwood Ave Suite 69.

To be eligible to donate blood, you must be at least 17 years old (16 with parental consent), weigh 110 pounds or more, and be in good health. Donors are encouraged to drink plenty of fluids – avoiding caffeine – and eat an iron-rich meal before donating.

Blood collected by Blood Assurance is thoroughly tested and processed at its operations center in Chattanooga before being distributed to participating hospitals and medical centers.

Columbia is home to one of 12 Blood Assurance fixed locations and 16 blood mobiles that help collect the blood and plasma needed to treat patients at area hospitals and medical centers.

To encourage people to donate blood, platelets, plasma and double red blood cells, tPipe that donates will be entered to win prizes including all-terrain utility vehicles and gift cards at popular stores. Blood Assurance is offering a $ 100 Target gift card every day until August 31st to a mobile blood donor and to someone who donates at any physical Blood Assurance facility.

Contact Mike Christen at mchristen@c-dh.net. Follow him on Twitter at @MikeChristenCDH and on Instagram @michaelmarco. Please consider supporting his work and that of other Daily Herald journalists by subscribing to the publication.


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