FARGO — Vitalant has become the first national blood bank to test all blood donations for antibodies to the coronavirus that causes COVID-19. The nonprofit blood collector serves patients at nearly 70 hospitals across North Dakota, South Dakota and western Minnesota.

The antibody tests are part of a full panel of tests that Vitalant performs on successful blood donations. Donors are not charged for the tests.

“While a positive antibody test does not mean that someone is immune to COVID-19, it does mean that they may be eligible to donate convalescent plasma in the future and help people with the disease,” said Cliff Numark, Vitalant’s chief of marketing, in a news release.

Vitalant began collecting and distributing convalescent plasma in April. For more information, visit vitalant.org/COVIDfree.

Donations of all blood types are critically needed, with an especially high need for types O, A-negative and B-negative red blood cells. Due to short shelf life, platelets are always needed by patients for cancer treatments, surgeries and emergencies.

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Appointments are strongly recommended. Visit vitalant.org or call 877-25-VITAL (877-258-4825).