Man Marks 2 Weeks on Ventilator; Family Makes Plea for Plasma Donors

Donors need to have recovered from COVID-19 and be 28 days symptom-free

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It’s been nearly two weeks since Sue Szendrey saw her husband Billy.

A week after the 64-year-old started to run a fever and experience a sore throat, dry cough, body aches and fatigue, she drove him to Baylor Scott & White Medical Center Grapevine.

He was quickly admitted and within a day had tested positive for COVID-19. Billy was placed on a ventilator, and Sue’s been home waiting by the phone ever since.

“Our reality is every morning I get up and I haven’t had a call from the hospital, and I thank God that he’s alive one more day,” Sue Szendrey said.

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She and her daughter, Katy, have filled their days researching cures and searching for hope.

They both believe Billy’s best chance at survival is a plasma transfusion.

It’s a process that takes plasma from people who have recovered from the virus and uses their antibodies to treat those in critical condition.

For COVID-19, it’s still an experimental procedure. Though in both the SARS and Ebola crises, it showed success.

Hospitals in North Texas have started to get the FDA approval needed to proceed, but they need donors who have recovered from coronavirus and are 28 days symptom-free.

“People are saying, 'What can I do? This is awful.’ This is what they can do,” Sue said.

With a treatment still in its infancy comes a lot of confusion.

Originally, the family was under the impression they needed to find a donor for Billy.

Now, with a list 15 names long, they’ve been told donors can’t give plasma for a specific patient.

That’s why the Szendreys are urging everyone who can give to come forward.

“The more people that donate, the more likely that they will be able to find a donation for my dad and for other people,” Katy said.

Learn more about donating plasma through UT Southwestern or Carter Bloodcare or the American Red Cross.

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