NCH doctor says plasma program seeing success; family encourages donation

NCH Healthcare System is touting remarkable and positive signs with its convalescent plasma program. It says the chances are, if you donate plasma, it will go to someone in Southwest Florida.

NCH started this program when it had patient number 400, and the program now has over 6,000.

An NCH doctor says part of the success was getting started early, and a plasma donor we spoke to says they believe it saved her husband’s life.

“It was very scary and very surprising,” Stacie Rathel said. “It was like waiting to wait what type of moments.”

Rathel and her family of five all contracted COVID-19, but her husband Michael fell ill worse than any family member. We told you about his case in April.

“Less than 48 hours later, they were putting him in a coma on a ventilator in the ICU,” Rathel recalled.

Luckily, back in early April Rathel had heard about the convalescent plasma study.

“I felt in my gut, like your ‘spidey senses’ that this was going to be key to his recovery,” Rathel said.

They found a donor within hours of posting on Facebook.

Although it wasn’t instant cure all, “We gave it to him and then nothing,” Rathel said. “It was the most anti-climactic thing.”

But then he got better.

“It took about 3.5 days, and that was our waste miracle,” Rathel said. “He woke up Easter morning.”

Dr. David Linder at NCH says their program is having this type of success with others too.

“The plasma does appear to be beneficial,” Linder said. “It seems right now 5,000 patients less than 1% adverse effect it’s safe.”

Dr. Linder says people are saving their own neighbors here in Southwest Florida.

“The most remarkable thing of the 99 people who got plasma, all but 23 were sourced locally,” Linder said.

Rathel and her daughter are plasma donors too now.

“These are uncertain times and if it helps people to feel empowered … they can participate in their loved ones recovery,” Rathel said.

Rathel and her daughter encourage everyone to donate if you can.

NCH processes plasma donations, and you can visit its website to find a location near you. Learn more about plasma and how to donate at Plasma For Lives.

Reporter:Taylor Smith
Writer:Jack Lowenstein
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