Stuart COVID-19 Survivor's Plasma Saves a Life: Why the Gift of Blood is More Critical Than Ever
Stuart resident and owner of Hog Technologies, James Crocker, was one of the first in our area to be diagnosed with COVID-19.
JC: On March 7, I was at a dinner at the Breakers in Palm Beach, and just felt really, really nauseous. And I told my wife we gotta go.
The next day, they went to church.
JC: Couldn’t get out of the car to go in.
Later that day, he tried to eat.
JC: I couldn’t smell or taste my food. And for the next ten days it was pretty miserable. Just high fever, nauseous, no appetite, hard time sleeping. The brain fog was epic! Man, I told my wife, I am so struggling to think!
He spent two days in the hospital. Although he never had a hard time breathing…
JC: …they said I had big spots on my lungs.
Once recovered, he went to social media to share his feelings against mask mandates.
JC: I am a freedom lover and maybe I can’t opine on the medical issues, but I am opining on our freedom issues.
A friend in Orlando responded.
JC: He must have seen one of my rants and wrote a very eloquent, very logical, very thoughtful, very passionate as well, about people dying.
They began texting, and the friend said:
JC: I am looking for a needle in a haystack. I have a friend who is gravely ill. His only real hope is plasma but it’s impossible to find. I texted him back and said, John, I’m your needle in a haystack.
He left right then for Orlando, even before he knew they had the same blood type.
JC: I knew it was going to be compatible. I don’t know, somehow, I knew.
The patient, Kevin Rathel, was in a coma.
JC: Yea. Yea. And on a ventilator. And they gave him less than 20% chance of making it. Kevin is 52 years old. You know, and very healthy. No underlying conditions.
Two days after receiving Crocker’s plasma, Rathel was still declining. It was Good Friday. Crocker leaned on his faith.
JC: A crisis sets the groundwork for a miracle. On Easter Sunday morning, Kevin came out of his coma for a few minutes and was able to blink his eyes and even cried a little bit. He saw his family on facetime.
Rathel recovered. And Crocker created a nonprofit at PlasmaForLives.com to educate and connect plasma donors.
JC: And I just felt like maybe there is something greater than just Kevin and James and this unique connection that we have.
The need for plasma from COVID survivors has never been greater here in Florida.
SF: Because they have the antibody to the virus that remains in the plasma portion of their blood. And we actually had over a 500% increase in hospital orders coming in for convalescent plasma.
This is Susan Forbes of OneBlood Florida.
SF: Doctors are starting to use convalescent plasma earlier in treatment with patients because they are seeing that the sooner they can get the antibody into the patient, the better off they are.
And, outside of COVID-19, blood is ALWAYS needed. For cancer patients. Premature babies. Unexpected trauma.
SF: Something happens, and that’s it. You need it. And it has to be there when you need it.
It hasn’t been easy. Their Big Red Bus®, a traveling donation center, lost its usual routes when schools and movie theatres closed.
SF: We had over 3000 blood drives cancel from March to May which would have accounted for over 50,000 blood donations. Because we can’t go to those places, we need to get creative with the community and think where can we have these blood drives?
Maybe your homeowner’s association or business? By donating, you’ll also find out if you had the virus but were asymptomatic. Currently you can give blood by appointment-only at OneBlood centers along the Treasure Coast. So far we’ve avoided a blood shortage.
SF: It’s something that you have the power to do, and we hope people will do it.
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