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Donated Blood, COVID-19 Antibodies Save Lehi Man’s Life

Jan 8, 2021, 5:03 PM | Updated: 10:07 pm

MURRAY, Utah – If you’ve had COVID-19 and recovered, the American Red Cross wants your blood.

Convalescent plasma from recovered patients is rich in antibodies that can help save lives by fighting off the virus.

One Lehi man who feared the virus would kill him before he got that treatment knows how valuable plasma donations can be.

Man Says Convalescent Plasma Saved His Life

We’ve reported before on convalescent plasma and the healing impact of those antibodies. Right now, it’s in short supply as more Utahns are hospitalized with the virus.

The Red Cross and a survivor are urging people to help. “I have all of the risk factors. I have my age, congestive heart failure, kidney failure and diabetes,” said 77-year-old Rodney Earle of Lehi.

With those health issues, Earle said he was very cautious about avoiding the virus.

“I still don’t know how I caught it because my kids and grandkids all tested negative,” he said.

Near the end of September, he started to feel sick: he couldn’t breathe and had a fever.

“I tested positive, and they admitted me to the hospital right away,” he said.

Earle’s condition deteriorated. “It was very scary,” he said.

Doctors put him on oxygen in the ICU and said they might have to put him on a ventilator. “I knew if I went on a ventilator I wasn’t coming out of the hospital,” Earle said.

Doctors then offered to treat him with plasma. “

They only had to do it once, and it turned my whole life around,” said Earle. “It was like going from night to day.”

He improved quickly and went home five days later. “It definitely saved my life. I will never know who the donor was but I’m certainly grateful.”

He gets emotional when he thinks about it. “I’m grateful for the doctors who decided to do it with me,” said Earle. “And, I’m just grateful to be alive.”

Recovered COVID-19 patients can donate plasma, which takes a little longer than whole blood donations. “We’re able to get sometimes up to four units of plasma that can go to four different patients,” said Dr. Walter Kelley, American Red Cross medical director.

They can also take plasma from whole blood donations when it tests positive for antibodies. Both donations are helping many patients as doctors continue to study the treatment.

“Potentially using it earlier in the disease process may help people avoid potentially even having to be on a mechanical ventilator to breathe for them,” he said.

Just as it helped Earle. “We still don’t know all the answers, but having the availability is a big deal,” said Kelley.

Earle agreed. “I’m feeling pretty good,” he said.

He’s recovered from COVID-19 while fighting other health problems. He wants everyone to know what a valuable gift that plasma can be. I would hope that many more people are able to donate plasma,” he said.

The National Football League has partnered with the Red Cross in this blood drive. All who donate blood this month will be automatically entered to win a getaway to next year’s Super Bowl in Los Angeles when, hopefully, the pandemic will be over.

Go to redcrossblood.org for details on how to make an appointment to donate.

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Donated Blood, COVID-19 Antibodies Save Lehi Man’s Life