Students of the Ogilvie High School National Honor Society have a long tradition of hosting blood drives in order to provide patients with life-saving blood.
When the pandemic limited their ability to host blood drives within the school itself, determined Ogilvie students creatively found alternative ways to continue their mission. Their dedication led to one staff member’s unexpected discovery that she could save even more lives than she knew.
The Ogilvie NHS had intended on hosting a blood drive at the school like in most years. Not wanting to take any chances of bringing in more people, potentially exposing Ogilvie students and staff to COVID-19, the Red Cross said that couldn’t happen. However, the Lewis Lake Covenant Church in Ogilvie offered their church as an alternative site.
School vans were coordinated to transport any Ogilvie school students or staff to the church to donate blood.
One of these was school Superintendent Kathy Belsheim, who regularly donates blood. During a December blood drive, Belsheim reached the 1-gallon donated milestone.
“I never would have reached this milestone without us doing this as a school district,” she said.
More importantly, and surprisingly, Belsheim discovered the Red Cross had tested her blood and found her body’s immune system has produced COVID-19 antibodies. She learned by donating plasma, her antibodies could be given to a COVID-19 patient currently fighting the virus, potentially saving their lives. A single plasma donation could treat four patients.
Belsheim said she intended to donate plasma and that it would be “definitely my pleasure.”
The Red Cross is currently seeking people who have recovered from coronavirus to donate plasma for coronavirus patients, and are testing blood donations for COVID-19 antibodies.
Ogilvie is hosting another blood drive from 11 a.m.-5 p.m. on Thursday, Feb. 25 at Lewis Lake Covenant Church, 1030 Grand St., Ogilvie.
Important COVID-19 information for donors
The Red Cross is testing blood, platelet and plasma donations for COVID-19 antibodies. The test may indicate if the donor’s immune system has produced antibodies to this coronavirus, regardless of whether an individual developed COVID-19 symptoms.
Red Cross antibody tests will be helpful to identify individuals who have COVID-19 antibodies and may now help current coronavirus patients in need of convalescent plasma transfusions.
Convalescent plasma is a type of blood donation collected from COVID-19 survivors that have antibodies that may help patients who are actively fighting the virus. Plasma from whole blood donations that test positive for COVID-19 antibodies may be used to help COVID-19 patients.
COVID-19 antibody test results will be available within one to two weeks in the Red Cross Blood Donor App or donor portal at RedCrossBlood.org. A positive antibody test result does not confirm infection or immunity. The Red Cross is not testing donors to diagnose illness, referred to as a diagnostic test. To protect the health and safety of Red Cross staff and donors, it is important that individuals who do not feel well or believe they may be ill with COVID-19 postpone donation.
Each Red Cross blood drive and donation center follows the highest standards of safety and infection control, and additional precautions – including temperature checks, social distancing and face coverings for donors and staff – have been implemented to help protect the health of all those in attendance.
Donors are asked to schedule an appointment prior to arriving at the drive and are required to wear a face covering or mask while at the drive, in alignment with Centers for Disease Control and Prevention public guidance.