Fort Worth

Fort Worth Man Meets His COVID-19 Plasma Donor

Jose Martinez was on a ventilator during his fight with the new coronavirus, when a fully recovered Fort Worth church rector agreed to donate his antibody-rich plasma

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Wednesday, the first North Texan to receive donated plasma from a COVID-19 survivor met the man who made the potentially life-saving gift.

Their reunion comes as doctors say more of these kinds of donations are needed to save even more lives.

Jose Martinez, 42-years-old, had already spent days on a ventilator at Texas Health Fort Worth, when pulmonologist Dr. John Burk, decided to try something only recently FDA-approved for emergency use.

Convalescent plasma therapy is blood plasma taken from COVID-19 survivors and infused into the sickest COVID-19 patients to boost their antibodies and help their body fight.

Father Robert Pace, a Fort Worth rector and the first confirmed COVID-19 case in Tarrant County, had recently fully recovered, making him one of the first North Texans eligible to donate COVID-19 antibody-rich plasma.

"I just had this image of all the people who are suffering from this," said Pace. "I prayed this would help."

Doctors say initial studies show the treatment has shown promise in helping some COVID-19 patients get off their ventilator.

Right now, there's enough donated COVID-19 plasma in North Texas to help just 30 patients, which is why doctors are calling on potential donors.

"If we had enough, wouldn't it be nice to give it before they go on the ventilator and maybe we can keep some patients off the ventilator so they wouldn't have to go through this?" said Dr. Burk.

Scientists say it's too early to know how long COVID-19 antibodies stay in the body, but Pace, Burk and Martinez feel the therapy did make the difference exactly when needed.

Wednesday, the three gathered to meet in person at Texas Health Fort Worth and marvel in what they call "a miracle."

"These are the miracles that we can see in our everyday life if we look for them," said Pace.

It was also the first time both Martinez and Pace -- got to meet another COVID-19 survivor.

Interested donors must meet eligibility requirements to donate. They include a positive test result for COVID-19 or antibody test results, complete resolution of symptoms for 14 days prior to donation and a documented negative COVID-19 test OR complete resolution of symptoms for 28 days and meeting regular blood donation guidelines.

You can see if you're eligible here.

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