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IU School of Medicine assistant professor leads the call for recovered COVID-19 blood donations after contracting disease himself

illustration of raised hands with a blood droplet icon on one palm

INDIANAPOLIS – Indiana University School of Medicine is asking all Indiana residents who have recovered from COVID-19 to donate blood for research, designed to improve testing, develop treatments and better understand the resulting health complications from the disease. Blood samples will be stored at the Indiana Biobank, where donations will be deidentified, linked to health data and accessed by approved researchers for testing. While staff at the Indiana Biobank are encouraging volunteers and fielding calls for donations, Indiana University School of Medicine Assistant Professor of Psychiatry Brandon Oberlin, PhD, is leading the call for volunteers after having contracted COVID-19 himself.

Oberlin is a researcher whose work is focused on understanding the neurobiology of addiction-related decision making. In spite of being cautious, he still became ill from the virus, even after his lab was closed—but before the state’s stay at home order was firmly in place. “I lost my sense of smell for five days and knew I had it,” said Oberlin. “My experience shows how highly contagious this disease is.”

So as a scientist, when he heard about the Indiana Biobank’s efforts to collect blood from recovered COVID-19 patients, he knew he had to join the fight. “As a research scientist, I know how important data collection is; the more data we have, the more we will learn, and the answers will come more quickly,” said Oberlin. “Like myself, I want everyone in Indiana who was COVID-19 positive and has recovered, which is now over 10,000 Hoosiers, to donate blood.”

According to the Indiana Biobank, any member of the recovered Indiana public who wishes to donate blood will be considered “recovered” if they are either 28 days symptom free, past the first day he or she had no symptoms or, are symptom free and can provide a confirmatory negative test that was done via a nasal or oral swab.

If a person chooses to donate blood, they will be consented into this study over the phone. A blood draw will then be scheduled at a convenient time and the volunteer will be asked to come into the Clinical Research Center located at University Hospital. The visit shouldn’t take any longer than a maximum of 30 minutes and parking will be complimentary. Children under the age of 18 are also encouraged to donate, but must be accompanied by a parent at the scheduled blood draw.

“Volunteers will be asked to contribute 42.5 milliliters of blood, which is just under 3 tablespoons,” said Tatiana Foroud, PhD, chair of the Department of Medical and Molecular Genetics at IU School of Medicine and director of the Indiana Biobank. “It’s a small donation in terms of the huge difference in can make in beating this disease.”

Anyone who is interested in participating please visit All IN For Health.

Video

Biobank calls for blood donations from COVID-19 patients

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IU School of Medicine is the largest medical school in the U.S. and is annually ranked among the top medical schools in the nation by U.S. News & World Report. The school offers high-quality medical education, access to leading medical research and rich campus life in nine Indiana cities, including rural and urban locations consistently recognized for livability.