Dr. Brandy Ricard

Dr. Brandy Ricard

Watching the SARS-CoV-2 virus approach our state and eventually Anderson County was like watching a wildfire headed our way.

We knew it would inevitably approach. We planned, prepared, and drew from our resources from those who were already in the fire or coming out of it. As we started seeing patients, we were prepared and ready as a team. The plans previously made were put in place. Some changed as we moved along. For the most part, however, the process remained smooth. There was an unprecedented feeling of teamwork.

During this time, I remember reading an email forwarded from CEO Roy Finch regarding convalescent plasma for COVID-19 that could benefit patients in a certain stage of the disease.

The idea is to take blood from someone who has recovered from COVID-19 and producing antibodies, then give it to patients who are struggling to recover. I remember thinking the idea was a stroke of genius. But I doubted our little community could become part of a large study from the Mayo Clinic, or be able to receive the plasma when needed for patients.

Still, we moved forward with enrolling in the trial. With the help of an amazing team at PRMC, we were enrolled in a day!

There were then three COVID-19-positive patients on the COVID Unit. One of our patients was approaching a critical stage and was feared to need ventilator support. This patient was ideal for the plasma trial, but I worried about the products' availability.

After the patient's consent and our team's assistance, however, we reached out to obtain the plasma. Initially we were told we may have to wait 3-5 days. That seemed like forever, as I watched our patient decline daily and struggle for air.

The following day, a true miracle happened. A caller, discussing blood donation with Carter blood care, asked, “Ma’am, do you need plasma today?”

With some hesitation, I said yes. She quickly asked what blood type we needed. Before the day ended, our patient received the first convalescent plasma in Palestine.

The days following were simply beautiful to observe. Our patient improved daily. The oxygen was weaned, and the patient reported feeling better every day – even to the point of turning up the music and rejoicing. The convalescent plasma definitely gets credit for this patient’s quick turnaround, but it also took a well-prepared team at PRMC (I cannot even begin to name them all).

I am writing to not only let community members know about the exceptional and cutting-edge care available locally, but also encourage them to donate if they meet the criteria below:

How to Donate

To be eligible to donate convalescent plasma a person must:

  • Have had a positive test result for COVID-19 or antibody test results.

  • Have complete resolution of symptoms for 14 days prior to donation and a documented negative COVID-19 test, or have complete resolution of symptoms for 28 days.

  • Meet the regular blood donation guidelines.

Source: Carter BloodCare

For more information, visit carterbloodcare.org

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