Volunteer gets ready to draw blood from a donor.
A volunteer gets ready to draw blood from a donor. (Photo: Shalom Korn)

Results from the second drive, which occurred on May 10, are not yet available.

Results from the first Hatzalah of Michigan blood drive, held in Oak Park on May 7, determined that 100 of those tested have the antibodies needed to donate plasma to COVID-19 patients, with each session supplying enough plasma to benefit three patients.

Results from the second drive, which occurred on May 10, are not yet available.

A total of 400 individuals took part in the two recent blood drives in hopes of being eligible to donate plasma to help those suffering from COVID-19.

Donor is prepared for a blood draw
A donor is prepared for a blood draw. (Photo: Shalom Korn)

Hatzalah of Michigan-Emergency Medical Services, in partnership with the Mayo Clinic in Rochester, Minn., held the early May drives. The purpose was to identify those whose blood shows antibody levels high enough to allow them to donate plasma for scientific trials and treatment of individuals who have the virus.

Blood drawn was sent to the Mayo Clinic to be tested. Names of those whose tests show probable useful antibodies are being shared with Hatzalah, whose staff will work with Ascension Providence Hospital in Southfield to direct donors to blood banks and help with screening and registration.

Ensuring social distancing, potential donors remained in their cars in front of Yeshiva Beth Yehudah in Oak Park until called to private tents. There, volunteer medics from the Oak Park-based Hatzalah, along with others including area doctors and nurses, drew blood. The second drive added a dedicated test line for frontline workers including first responders and health care and law enforcement professionals.

Tents and volunteers are ready for donors
Tents and volunteers are ready for donors. (Photo: Shalom Korn)

The drives were sponsored by TCF Bank in collaboration with Hatzalah nationwide and the American Red Cross, with support from the Jewish Federation of Metropolitan Detroit.

The non-emergency assistance volunteer group, Detroit Chaverim, provided traffic control for the drives, held as part of the Yitzchok Lebovits COVID Plasma Initiative Foundation, with the support of the Orthodox Union and Agudath Israel of America.

The outdoor testing sites were overseen by Hatzalah’s volunteer director, Dr. Steve McGraw, medical director of Oakland County Medical Control Authority and Emergency Department Chief at Providence Hospital, and Dr. Daniel Lebovic, blood-drive volunteer, hematologist and oncologist.

“Many of us know someone who has been affected by the virus and we feel so powerless,” said Nachy Soloff of Southfield, a volunteer and organizer of the drives. “It was amazing that to see so many in our community want to help other stricken with COVID-19 that we were able to hold the second drive. People who came out did so because of a sense of knowing that this could be their way to have the potential to help.”

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