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Florida coronavirus patient goes home after plasma therapy

The first man in the Southeastern United States to receive plasma therapy for the coronavirus is a Florida resident. And he’s recovering at home now.

Michael Kevin Rathel was on his deathbed when his wife, Stacie, found someone who beat COVID-19 and was a plasma donor match. The treatment he received likely saved his life.

“Moving heaven and earth to try and get our hands on a test in Orlando, it was a wild goose chase,” Stacie said.

Stacie never stopped believing her husband would beat COVID-19 even when doctors put him in a medically-induced coma. Two weeks later, Michael left Orlando Regional Medical Center with doctors and nurses cheering him on.

“It’s been a serious roller coaster ride of emotions,” Michael said.

“I remember him saying I can’t believe they’re doing that for me,” Stacie said. “I should be doing that for them.”

The doctors and nurses are heroes in Michael’s survival story and so is his wife. Stacie didn’t pray alone when doctors delivered the grim news. She got busy and found a plasma donor from a recovered coronavirus patient.

“Once that plasma kicked in, he was improving by leaps and bounds,” Stacie said.

“Before they gave me the plasma, they gave me a 20% chance of survival,” Michael said. “So at that stage, there was nothing to lose.”

Michael was the first patient in the Southeast to receive plasma therapy. Now, he’s home with his wife and kids, a retired lawyer with a second chance at life.

“Puts things in perspective that weren’t quite in the same perspective before,” MIchael said.

Michael told us he can’t stop thinking about the people who sacrificed to save him and the prayers people said for him.

“He thought he heard us praying for him, and that means everything to us for him,” Stacie said.

“I don’t think I heard,” Michael said. “I know I heard.”

Together, the Rathel family beat the odds. Now Michael and Stacie can’t wait face whatever’s next.

Once he’s fully recovered, Michael wants to donate his plasma and hopes he can help someone else beat coronavirus. The family hopes everyone will get behind website PlasmaForLives.

The man who donated his plasma that likely saved Michael’s life is now working to save many more.

“Dream really is to create a movement, just to an overwhelming wave of donors that can provide this therapy for those in desperate need,” said James Crocker who donated his plasma to Michael.

Locally, both Lee Health Health and NCH Healthcare System are participating in a plasma donor clinical trial.

MORE: Recovered COVID-19 patient saves man’s life with plasma donation

Reporter:Andrea Guerrero
Writer:Jack Lowenstein
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