By Serena Gordon HealthDay Reporter
THURSDAY, Nov. 5, 2020 (HealthDay News) — If you’ve recovered from a COVID-19 infection, you can help as many as four other COVID-19 patients get better, simply by donating your plasma.
Is it worth it? Just ask Melissa Sullivan.
The 35-year-old COVID-19 survivor and self-confessed needle-phobe donated her plasma soon after she recovered, and she plans on doing it again two weeks from now.
“I was very scared when I was sick, but I came out on the other side, so why not pay it forward? If I had needed it, I would have wanted someone to have the courage to do it. You can make an immeasurable difference in someone’s life,” Sullivan said.
COVID-19 infection blindsided Sullivan, who has consistently taken precautions to avoid the disease. She’s an active, healthy marathon runner who works as a press officer for the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency. Normally, she exercises about five to six times a week, and was on track to complete her third Marine Corps Marathon this year.
But one day in August, Sullivan said, “I went on a 6-mile run, which was pretty routine for me. After the run, my symptoms came on hard and fast. I had shortness of breath, chills and fever. Later, I developed a pounding headache, nausea, vertigo and stomach flu symptoms.”
The day after her symptoms began, she was in the hospital, where they monitored her oxygen levels and gave her IV fluids.
“It was not as bad as it could have been, but it was probably some of the worst pain I’ve experienced in my life. I think my age and the fact that I’m healthy helped me get better quickly,” Sullivan said.
Because she recovered relatively soon after her illness, Sullivan said, “I felt I had a duty to give back to others.”
Plasma is a component of blood that carries antibodies. These infection-fighting proteins are made by the immune system in response to a specific infection. Experts hope that giving plasma with COVID-19 antibodies (called convalescent plasma) will boost the immune system of people currently fighting COVID-19 infections and help them recover.