By Jessica Mathews /

Livingston County residents are being encouraged to donate blood or platelets at upcoming drives to help ensure coronavirus patients and others who depend on transfusions have needed blood products this fall.

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.

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, officials say whole blood and platelet donations made at any Red Cross blood drive or blood donation center could be helpful in the effort. Dr. Erin Goodhue, executive medical director of direct patient care with the Red Cross Biomedical Services, says 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. Goodhue added that 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.

Each Red Cross blood drive and donation center is said to follow the highest standards of safety and infection control. A listing of upcoming donation opportunities in Livingston County is available in the attached release.