COVID-19 antibody test included when you donate blood at ABC7 Great Chicago Blood Drive

CHICAGO (WLS) -- You can save someone's life every 56 days by donating blood. We are ramping up to prepare for our ABC 7 Great Chicago Blood Drive and your help is especially needed this year.

Blood donation is critical and has been deemed an "essential service" on the state and federal level. The need for blood donors remains high during the pandemic.

You can expect temperature checks, hand washing, sanitizing and social distancing among the precautions being put in place for this year's ABC 7 Great Chicago Blood Drive.

"During the pandemic the need for one is constant," said Hannah Allton, Regional Communications Manager, American Red Cross of Illinois. "It doesn't stop, just because of the coronavirus pandemic. So, we have put additional safety protocols in place to keep people safe and healthy when they come to donate."

The need remains high especially this time of year as the weather turns cold and we turn our focus to the holidays. Right now, many are spending more time at home because of COVID-19.

"You know a lot of people are so focused on the coronavirus pandemic, but what they don't realize is emergencies don't stop just because of the pandemic," Allton said. "Every two seconds, someone in the U.S. needs blood."

This year when you donate, your blood will be tested for COVID-19 antibodies. An antibody test assesses whether your immune system has responded to the COVID-19 virus.

"It allows you to know if you possibly could have been exposed to it, so it doesn't allow you to know if you do have the infection, it's just allowing you to know if you've been exposed," Allton said. "So, by donating it does give a little insight into if you can be a candidate for convalescent plasma donation."

Convalescent plasma donation could help patients who are fighting COVID-19, so donating this year could help you save lives in more ways than one.

To accommodate everyone and encourage social distancing, ABC 7 Great Chicago Blood Drive is expanding in 2021.

You can donate on January 13, 2021 between 7 a.m. and 7 p.m. at five different locations: The Field Museum in Chicago, Foglia YMCA in Lake Zurich, Georgios Banquets in Orland Park, Hyatt Regency in Schaumburg and Center for Visual and Performing Arts in Munster, Indiana.

To register, schedule your appointment online or call 1-800-Red-Cross.
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