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MHS blood drive to help COVID patients

CONTRIBUTED PHOTO Joseph Anguiano donates during a blood drive at Marshalltown High School in 2018.

Marshalltown High School is hoping to draw more donors to its blood drive Wednesday and Thursday.

Donors are permitted by online appointment only to limit traffic and adhere to COVID-19 safety guidelines.

MHS National Honor Society advisor Susan Fritzell said some spots are still available to donate on Thursday. LifeServe Blood Center’s goal for MHS is 44 successful donations between the two days. The National Honor Society organized the blood drive.

The school has been closed to the public throughout the pandemic, so only students and faculty are allowed to donate.

“Usually we do it in one day,” Fritzell said. “Because we’re spread out over two days we’ll have probably close to as many donors. It just won’t be as busy each day. It will be much more efficient this year.”

The drive is taking place for two days instead of one to allow all students to be in the building at some point during the drive. Students are alternating in-person days because of the pandemic.

With many schools and businesses operating offsite, blood centers are having a difficult time organizing drives and keeping up with demand.

“We usually have a very solid drive at John Deere. They’re not in the offices,” said Jeremy Voss, territory representative for LifeServe. “A lot of businesses are out.”

Blood centers like LifeServe experienced a “break” at the beginning of the pandemic, according to Voss, because hospitals put a halt to elective surgeries. Since those surgeries are allowed again, the demand for blood is “skyrocketing.”

“A lot of our communities, including Marshalltown, have stepped up,” Voss said. “People that are staying home are still giving but it’s still a deep dive in what we’re able to collect.”

Donors have the option to have a portion of their donation, one vial worth, submitted for COVID-19 antibody testing. The test will reveal whether the donor’s immune system has encountered COVID-19. Results are usually available after 5-7 days. Voss notes legally the test is not considered an official confirmation a donor was positive for the virus at any point. If a donor is positive for antibodies they become eligible to donate to LifeServe’s Convalescent Plasma Program.

“We can’t say it’s conclusive that you had it but your body tried to fight it off at one point,” he said. “Read into that what you will.”

LifeServe is the only convalescent plasma provider in Iowa. Donations with COVID-19 antibodies will be used for the most severe virus patients, Voss said.

Plasma are white blood cells that fight diseases.

“We can take a portion of your white blood cells out and replace them with these — which have the ability to fight the disease that you have,” Voss said. “We replace your blood cells that are not fighting it with ones that have to train your blood cells to fight it.”

MARSHALLTOWN HIGH SCHOOL BLOOD DRIVE

When: 8 a.m.-12:30 p.m., Wednesday-Thursday

Location: Marshalltown High School Auditorium (enter through exterior auditorium doors)

Contact Susan Fritzell at 641-754-1130 ex. 1005 or visit www.lifeservebloodcenter.org

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Contact Joe Fisher at 641-753-6611 or jfisher@timesrepublican.com

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