Fort Worth

First North Texan Treated With Plasma From COVID-19 Survivor

The 42-year-old man received the plasma treatment on March 29. He was discharged April 10.

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Plasma donations from recovered COVID-19 patients may help people fighting infection.

Doctors said Jose Martinez, of Fort Worth, is the first North Texan to receive the treatment.

Before he was diagnosed with COVID-19, Martinez was an active, outgoing 42-year-old.

Now, basic skills like walking are a challenge.

Martinez said he believes he contracted the coronavirus from a coworker who tested positive. He spent three weeks at Texas Health Harris Methodist Hospital Fort Worth.

“We didn't ever imagine that the horror movie that we’re watching unfold in other parts of the country and the world would ever come to our living room,” said Martinez's sister Jacqueline Adams.

He was in the ICU on a ventilator for 11 days.

Martinez said he was given convalescent plasma from a COVID-19 survivor to help boost his ability to respond to infection.

“Jose would be the first to have received it in North Texas,” said Dr. John Burk, a pulmonary physician who treated Martinez.

Martinez said his condition began to improve about three days after he received donated plasma. He was discharged on April 10 -- 12 days after the treatment.

“Then [to] see him walking in the pasture, what would be about five days after discharge was just exciting,” said Burk, who was sent a home video of Martinez relearning to walk.

Martinez said he lost about 30 pounds. He’s now in physical therapy and making strides toward recovery.

"Donate plasma and it will save a life. It saved mine,” said Martinez.

A Fort Worth man recovering from COVID-19 after 11 days on a ventilator is living proof of the potential for plasma therapy. He was the first in North Texas to receive donated plasma and thanks to a new grassroots effort, he likely won’t be the last.

New Group For Survivors

Doctors said the antibodies in the convalescent plasma can help recipient patients' bodies fight off the virus.

The treatment has so much promise, research trials have skyrocketed since the pandemic began and that means, there's a big call for donors, like Diana Berrent of New York.

"I got this novel virus, just like others did, but my body reacted to it exactly the way it was supposed to and it built the antibodies to fight it off," Berrent said.

Berrent said she knew there were other potential donors like her, so she launched a grassroots efforts called Survivor Corps.

In weeks, the Facebook group, mainly of COVID-19 survivors, grew to 45,000thousand, as well as traffic on the website, which resulted in an ocean of candidates who might have antibody rich plasma that could help others.

"The mystery of the virus lies in the bodies of survivors, so by supporting the scientists, we are helping to find a cure and help end this pandemic," Berrent said.

Academic and for-profit companies are using donated plasma to explore a variety of treatments, including serums that could prevent infections in front line workers.

COVID-19 survivors are eligible to donate plasma 14-28 days after they recover.

Click here for patient eligibility requirements from the U.S. Food and Drug Administration.

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