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Plasma from whole blood and platelet donations made through the American Red Cross that test positive for COVID-19 antibodies may now help current coronavirus patients in need of convalescent plasma transfusions.

The Red Cross encourages people to make an appointment to give blood or platelets now to help ensure coronavirus patients and others who depend on transfusions have needed blood products this fall.

In April, the Red Cross began collecting COVID-19 convalescent plasma from previously diagnosed individuals, who could only give at one of approximately 170 Red Cross blood donation centers across the country.

Convalescent plasma contains COVID-19 antibodies that may help the most critical patients actively fighting this virus.

Now, whole blood and platelet donations made at any Red Cross blood drive or blood donation center could be helpful in this effort.

“Donations that come back positive for COVID-19 antibodies now undergo secondary testing to confirm antibody results, and that enables the Red Cross to then potentially use the plasma from those donations for COVID-19 patients,” said Dr. Erin Goodhue, executive medical director of direct patient care with the Red Cross Biomedical Services. “With approximately 2% of the U.S. population testing positive for COVID-19 antibodies, every donation is important to ensure patients with coronavirus have access to every treatment option available to them.”

The Red Cross encourages eligible individuals to schedule an appointment, download the free Blood Donor App, visit RedCrossBlood.org, call 1-800-RED CROSS (1-800-733-2767) or enable the Blood Donor Skill on any Alexa Echo device.

The Red Cross is offering a $1,000 Amazon.com Gift Card to five lucky winners who come to give in October. Terms and conditions apply; visit rcblood.org/unite.

Additionally, those who come to give by the end of September will receive a free haircut coupon by email to participating Sport Clips Haircuts locations. More information is available at RedCrossBlood.org/Sport-Clips.

Upcoming blood drives in Bedford and Blair counties include:

— Oct. 5, noon to 5 p.m., Seventh Day Adventist Church, 203 Drive In Lane, Everett;

— Oct. 9, 1 to 6:30 p.m., Saxton Fire Hall, 8th and Norris streets, Saxton;

— Oct. 15, noon to 5:30 p.m., Hyndman Volunteer Fire Department, 3912 Center St., Hyndman;

— Oct. 15, 1 to p.m., Bedford Township Municipal Authority, Shed Road, Bedford;

— Sept. 30, Oct. 7, Oct. 14, noon to 6 p.m., Altoona Blood Donation Center, 415 Orchard Ave., Altoona.

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