TULSA ─ Oklahoma Blood Institute announced it will provide free COVID-19 antibody tests for all blood donors eighteen and older. Oklahoma Blood Institute is the first blood center in the state to offer COVID-19 antibody screening service to its donors.
This testing initiative, provided at all donor centers and mobile blood drives, comes in the wake of an immediate need for blood donations due to an unprecedented number of blood drive cancellations. Healthy donors are urged to give blood, and appointments are encouraged to allow for recommended social distancing.
The antibody testing was announced at a Wednesday morning media conference held at OSU Health Sciences Center in Tulsa. Speakers included John Armitage, M.D., president and CEO of Oklahoma Blood Institute; Kayse Shrum, D.O., president of OSU Center for Health Sciences and Oklahoma’s Secretary of Science & Innovation; George Monks, M.D., president of the Oklahoma State Medical Association; Bruce Dart, Ph.D., executive director of Tulsa Health Department; and Col. Lance Frye, Oklahoma’s new interim Commissioner of Health.
“Oklahoma is now in Phase 3 of re-opening, and many of us are going back to work and resuming activities,” Shrum said. “This testing innovation is key to empowering Oklahomans with the health information they need as we continue to navigate the COVID-19 crisis and evaluate effective methods to keep Oklahomans safe. The medical community commends Oklahoma Blood Institute for providing this valuable testing free of charge.”
The testing kits are provided by IMMY located in Norman, OK, and Oklahoma Blood Institute’s medical laboratory technicians will test each blood sample individually. A tube will be drawn at the time of donation, and antibody test results will be mailed post-donation. Donors may opt out of the antibody test.*
“Our generous donors are answering the call to donate – coming out in force when the need for blood is great and ensuring that no patient goes without crucial transfusion care,” Armitage said. “The antibody tests are a natural step in our commitment to the health of our lifesaving donors, and we are also very eager to help our state reopen medically and economically.”
Oklahoma Blood Institute’s donor centers and mobile blood drives have instituted additional cleaning methods, decontaminating work and common areas and equipment frequently. In addition, donor centers and mobile blood drives have been adapted to allow for social distancing. All phlebotomy staff will wear masks. Staff members and donors will also have their temperatures taken before starting work or entering the facility.
Oklahoma Blood Institute is following recommendations and guidelines set forth by the FDA, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and AABB (formerly American Association of Blood Banks). Oklahoma Blood Institute is committed to maintaining the safest standards for blood collection, testing and transfusion.