Hoxworth

COVID-19 Survivor Credits Convalescent Plasma for Recovery

In April of 2020, Hoxworth Blood Center made headlines when it initiated its convalescent plasma program. As cases of the novel coronavirus in the area were spiking, the community was hopeful that plasma collected from individuals who had recovered from COVID-19 would be effective therapy for some of the most critically ill patients in our area.

Deb Cook was one of those patients—and she believes that because of convalescent plasma, she is here today.

Deb, who lives in Fairfield, enjoys reading and hiking at the Cincinnati Nature Center in her spare time. In July, though, she came down with respiratory symptoms that made just breathing a difficult task, let alone hiking.

“I started feeling sick on July 16th,” Deb remembers. “I went to Urgent Care on the 17th, and they said I had pneumonia. They did perform a COVID test, which later came back negative.”

Bag of convalescent plasma with donor in background

Despite the negative test result, Deb’s symptoms only worsened over the next day. She knew that something wasn’t right, and sought further medical attention.

“I kept getting worse and went to the ER on July 18th, where they took test as well and sent me home. But I when went back to the ER by Life Squad on July 20th, they told me that my test had just came back positive.”

The team at Mercy Fairfield admitted Deb for pneumonia caused by COVID-19. By this point, Deb’s lungs weren’t able to deliver enough oxygen to the rest of her body.

“My oxygen levels were so bad that they had me on this huge oxygen machine along with the regular oxygen,” she recalls.

Just a few days later, Deb’s physicians approached her with information about a new experimental treatment for the virus.

“On July 22nd, an infectious disease doctor called me telling me about the convalescent plasma, wanting to know if I wanted to try it since it was experimental. I had seen research on it already, so I said yes.”

The Mercy Health team ordered the plasma quickly due to Deb’s severe symptoms, and she was transfused shortly thereafter. Even though she was dangerously ill, Deb almost immediately felt a difference as the plasma—and a stranger’s COVID-19 antibodies—coursed through her body.

“I swear, I could feel the difference in my body as soon as the plasma was going into my veins. My strength began to return from that moment on.”

Following the transfusion, Deb began to recover and was removed from the oxygen machines. Eventually, she was released from the hospital to go home. Today, she’s feeling nearly herself again.

“I feel great now,” she says. “Still have to take it easy, but I feel good!”

Having survived the virus that has resulted in hundreds of thousands of deaths across the globe with many more still recovering from severe symptoms, Deb feels grateful that she was a survivor. She credits the plasma from a local stranger for allowing her to fight back against COVID-19 and prevail. 

“I feel the plasma saved my life and intend to donate my own plasma as soon as I'm able,” she says. “I would encourage anyone that has the antibodies to donate, because you could save another person like someone saved me. And to the person that donated for me—thank you from the bottom of my heart. Your blood saved my life!