Why I Donated Plasma After Recovering From COVID-19April 28, 2020
By Conner Scott
Before I found out that I had COVID-19, my knowledge about the new coronavirus was pretty basic. I knew it could cause flu-like symptoms. I knew there wasn't a vaccine. And I knew that the virus could spread easily, which meant I needed to take the warnings from doctors and public health officials seriously. What I didn't know was that, in a month or so, I'd be donating my plasma to help save people's lives.
After I started showing signs and symptoms of COVID-19, even though I had been taking steps to stay safe, I learned a lot more about the virus pretty quickly.
I learned that being smart and cautious doesn't necessarily prevent you from getting sick. I learned the virus doesn't care about your birthday or college exams. I learned that it can cause fever for days and extreme fatigue. And I learned that, even though I didn't get the worst of COVID-19 physically, the mental battle of having a brand new virus is taxing enough in and of itself. Not to mention the exhaustion and achiness that lasts for weeks after the worst symptoms pass.
And while I never really learned exactly how my friends and I got COVID-19, I did learn that there was some good that could come out of me having and recovering from COVID-19.
How I went from fighting my illness to helping someone else fight theirs
Somewhere between testing positive for COVID-19 and making a full recovery, I read about a new experimental plasma treatment being used to potentially save the lives of critically ill patients. And, since I had successfully fought off the new coronavirus, my plasma might contain antibodies that could help someone who's struggling to survive COVID-19.
After reading about the new therapy, I knew right away that I wanted to help someone by donating my plasma. I didn't want to be doing nothing when I could be doing something — especially if that something meant the difference between life and death for someone else.
After looking online to see if there was a place I could donate in Houston, I found out that Houston Methodist was actually the first hospital in the nation to use plasma therapy to help treat COVID-19 patients. And I learned that the hospital was still looking for healthy, recovered donors.
Exactly 14 days after being symptom-free, I called Houston Methodist to schedule my plasma donation. The next day, I was donating plasma for the first time.
What I would tell someone recovering from COVID-19 who's considering donating plasma
I'm living in Tomball right now. Even with the commute, I'm still more than happy to drive to to the Houston Methodist campus at the Texas Medical Center to donate my plasma. In fact, even if I move back to College Station for summer classes, I still plan to drive into Houston just to donate my plasma.
Here's why I do it:
The process is pretty painless. The plasma donation process happens while you sit at a machine that separates and collects your plasma from the rest of your blood. The other parts of your blood, like your red blood cells, get returned back to your body. It's a single needle prick in your arm, and I found the process to be fairly painless.
The appointments only take about an hour. While my first appointment was longer due to the initial paperwork, my subsequent appointments have been much shorter. The actual process of sitting at the machine while your plasma is collected only takes about 40 minutes.
I can donate twice a week, which means I can continue making a difference. Unlike donating blood, which you can only do every two months, you can donate plasma up to two times per week. I plan to continue donating my plasma as long as they need it and they let me.
I have nothing to lose, and someone else may have his or her life to gain. I had a mild case of COVID-19, but others aren't so fortunate. The only potential outcome of me donating my plasma is a positive one — I could help save a life.
I've learned a lot during my COVID-19 journey. I'm still way behind on classwork and exams, but I've also received a ton of support — from family and friends who helped keep my spirits up while I was recovering, to my professors at Texas A&M who reached out and have been incredibly accommodating.
At the end of the day, I've learned that if we all just lend a helping hand, we can get through COVID-19. My helping hand was donating my plasma, and there are plenty of ways for people who haven't had COVID-19 to lend a helping hand, too.