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COVID-19 Survivor Hopes Plasma Donation Will Help Save Others

LAYTON, Utah – A Davis County man was among the first COVID-19 survivors to donate his plasma to treat those who have hospitalized with the virus.

Doctors from Intermountain Healthcare, and others across the country, have been investigating how helpful plasma treatments might be, as they try to build a pool of donors.

“I just felt this desire and need to help out as soon as I could, because of my experience with the virus,” said Matt Newey. “The virus was horrible, and I can’t imagine what people in the hospitals are experiencing (and) having it way worse.”

Newey was among the first people in Utah to catch coronavirus and test positive. He has been well for 30 days, with neither a cough nor a fever.

He was able to donate his plasma in Layton at the American Red Cross Blood Donor Center.

Matt Newey‘s blood is rich with antibodies that helped him fight off COVID-19. So, he’s donated plasma that doctors plan to infuse into a patient who is suffering, right now.

He was eager to help, even as he tries to shake off the last lingering symptoms.

“I have the strong antibodies that will help other people, hopefully help other people, and potentially fight off this virus faster,” he said.

In mid-March, before the ski resorts shut down across the region, he was in Steamboat Springs, Colorado with four friends.

“We didn’t know this, but I guess there was a big outbreak going on,” he said. “We headed home, and then a couple of days later my friends and I were feeling really weird, all five of us. Then later, all five of us tested positive for the virus.“

He battled the virus for about a week, he said.

“When it got to my chest, that was when it got the scariest,” he said. “It felt like I was breathing through a straw.”
During the worst of the illness, he said, he also felt as though somebody was sitting on his chest.

“The cough only lasted just one rough, sleepless night,” he said. “It was as though my immune system was trying to punch it out of my system, and give everything that I could to knock it out.”

He said he feels like he has about 70 percent of his lung capacity back, but, no sense of taste or smell.

“I left my milk out for two days, and I have no idea if it’s gone bad or not,“ he said.

Newey ate a lemon with no reaction to the sour taste, When he took a mouthful of hot sauce, he was not able to taste the flavor, but he did feel the burn.

“I’ve lost my appetite because of it, and I’ve lost over 15 pounds,” he said.

Newey hoped his senses return as he continues to feel better. After going through COVID-19, he said he sees the virus in a different way. He urged everyone to take all precautions to slow the spread.

“This isn’t just an ordinary flu bug,” he said. “This is a serious virus, and it needs to be taken seriously.”

Individuals are eligible to donate their plasma if they have tested positive for COVID-19, have been symptom-free for at least 28 days, and have the printed results from their positive test. Other health criteria will be monitored, as well.

“People are really beginning to respond to this,” said Dr. Walter Kelley, medical director for the American Red Cross. “We certainly have people that are able to (donate), but we really encourage people that do have an interest, and are willing to take the time, to do this.”

For an online pre-screening, go to redcrossblood.org


Coronavirus Resources

How Do I Prevent It?

The CDC has some simple recommendations, most of which are the same for preventing other respiratory illnesses or the flu:

  • Avoid close contact with people who may be sick
  • Avoid touching your face
  • Stay home when you are sick
  • Cover your cough or sneeze with a tissue and then throw the tissue in the trash
  • Wash your hands often with soap and water for at least 20 seconds, especially after going to the bathroom, before eating, and after blowing your nose, coughing or sneezing. Always wash your hands with soap and water if your hands are visibly dirty.
  • If soap and water are not readily available, use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer with at least 60% alcohol.
The CDC recommends wearing cloth face coverings in public settings where other social distancing measures are difficult to maintain (e.g., grocery stores and pharmacies), especially in areas of significant community-based transmission.

How To Get Help

If you’re worried you may have COVID-19, you can contact the Utah Coronavirus Information Line at 1-800-456-7707 to speak to trained healthcare professionals. You can also use telehealth services through your healthcare providers.

Additional Resources

If you see evidence of PRICE GOUGING, the Utah Attorney General’s Office wants you to report it. Common items in question include toilet paper, water, hand sanitizer, certain household cleaners, and even cold medicine and baby formula. Authorities are asking anyone who sees price gouging to report it to the Utah Division of Consumer Protection at 801-530-6601 or 800-721-7233. The division can also be reached by email at consumerprotection@utah.gov.

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