SAN ANTONIO – With the ongoing need for blood donations, the South Texas Blood and Tissue Center is offering a new and different incentive for your donation -- free antibody testing for COVID-19.
Monday was the first day for free antibody testing for blood donors.
"I try to regularly donate blood," said Paul Yoder. "But as a high school teacher, it's easy to kind of get busy and put it off."
Yoder was one of the hundreds of donors who made it out to the South Texas Blood and Tissue Center on Monday. He said he already had plans to donate blood, but hearing about the free antibody testing for COVID-19 was the push that got him to give blood this week.
"It's such an invisible disease. And I think we're all somewhat concerned if we've had it or haven't had it. I think we even had some kids back in January and February now, looking back, they're thinking they had symptoms, but people did not know what it was at the time," Yoder said. "So I think it's important that you know if you had it or not. And then, if you've had it, maybe they can use your antibodies to help other people."
Elizabeth Waltman, chief operating officer of the South Texas Blood & Tissue Center, said antibody tests are important to find those donors who can help others who have the virus.
"This particular test tests for the antibodies that will show whether or not they came in contact with (COVID-19)," Waltman said. "It's important to our donors. They want to know. It's important to us because we want to know if there are folks out there that can help us with convalescent plasma that is needed desperately for people who are in the hospital fighting COVID(-19)."
Waltman said the center has already seen an increase in donations. On Monday, there were 494 appointments scheduled.
“Because we don’t have access to many of the locations that we used to go for blood drives -- like organizations, churches, schools -- we really need for people to come into our donor rooms and donate blood,” she said.
Waltman said you should only donate if you are healthy. If you're feeling sick, you can always reschedule because the center will be offering the antibody testing throughout the summer.
For more information, you can call 210-731-5590 or visit SouthTexasBlood.org.