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NEW ORLEANS – Beginning today, Ochsner Health is offering blood and platelet donors at participating Ochsner Blood Bank sites a free COVID-19 antibody test. This incentive will run through the next month to encourage the public to donate.

Ochsner blood banks, like blood banks across the nation, are currently experiencing a critical blood shortage. They say that they are in need of all blood types are needed, especially platelets and Type O red cells.

How does antibody testing work?

“A COVID-19 antibody test can determine if a person’s immune system has created antibodies in response to COVID-19. Presence of the antibody indicates the individual has been infected with COVID-19 in the past but is not guaranteed immunity or protection from future infection. Because this virus is new and there are still many unknowns, there is not enough information at this time to determine what defines COVID-19 immunity and how long immunity may last.”

Ochsner Health

They say that during blood donation, a small amount of the blood collected will be separately tested for COVID-19 antibodies. All participating donors will be notified via mail of the results. It’s important to note that to be eligible for the free COVID-19 antibody test, it must be a successful blood or platelet donation.

While antibody testing is a step in the right direction, Ochsner Health warns that people should continue to follow CDC guidelines, including social distancing, wearing a mask in public, and good hand hygiene practices. Individuals with a negative antibody test should be aware that they have not been infected by the virus or developed antibodies to COVID-19. If an individual were to test positive for antibodies, the same social practices should remain in place prior to testing as we continue to learn more about this virus.

Notes from Ochsner Health about what to do before you donate:

  • We encourage you to eat a healthy meal and drink water prior to donating.
  • Individuals taking medication for high blood pressure or cholesterol CAN donate! All blood types are needed.
  • Picture ID required.

Ochsner blood banks and blood drives participating in the antibody testing incentive can be found at For more information or to make an appointment, call 504-842-3375.