DAYTON, Ohio – Jane Schneider’s journey from COVID-19 patient to survivor and lifesaving donor began during the troubled month of March when she was sick for weeks with her fever spiking and her lungs shrinking.
“My doctor said to stay home,” she said. “But my fever went up to 103 and I started having trouble breathing. That’s when I called 911.”
She spent the next eight days in Sycamore Medical Center. She was tested for COVID-19 on March 31 and found out she was positive for the frightening coronavirus on April 2.
“They said I had pneumonia, but didn’t know what kind,” she said. “They started me on oxygen. Once the test came back positive, they put me on hydroxyochloroquine and I was on it for five days.”
She said the drug known for treating malaria helped her slowly recover. “I was in the hospital a total of eight days, knocking down the oxygen as I went. I was so dehydrated when I got there, I remember it took a long time to find a vein for the IV.”
Perhaps the darkest part of what she called “this nightmare” was the loneliness.
“There were no visitors,” she said. “I was in the isolation floor. It was closed down the whole time after the test was positive. Anyone who came in was in total PPE.”
Her only contact with the outside world was the voice of her sister on her mobile phone. “After a couple of days, I said, ‘You have to FaceTime me, I have to see you.”
She was discharged from the hospital on April 8 and spent the next 14 days quarantined at home. She could work again. Like many of her colleagues at Puroclean, she worked from home. But first on her agenda was taking “the nightmare” and turning into a dream of hope for someone else fighting COVID-19.
Jane learned from her doctor how COVID-19 Convalescent Plasma (CCP) from recovered COVID-19 patients could be used to treat those still critically ill with the virus. Community Blood Center had just begun to collect CCP in early April and was the first blood center in Ohio to launch a CPP program. The plasma was immediately going to local hospitals to treat COVID-10 patients.
Jane’s physician, Dr. Charles Opperman with Kettering Health Network, was an early advocate of CCP. “He called me in the hospital and said when you get better, you’ll be able to give plasma to help someone else.”
That became Jane’s goal. She qualified for the CCP program and scheduled her first appointment to give plasma at CBC. It would be her first blood donation of any kind. But she was disappointed when her hemoglobin tested too low in screening to donate.
Jane was determined to boost her iron and try again. On May 6 she made her first successful donation.
“It’s easy!” she laughed as she completed her donation with no issues. “I’m thrilled. That just makes me want to do it more. I’m smiling behind my mask. I’m thrilled to be able to do it!”
Jane is already making plans to donate when she is eligible again in two weeks. She was proud to take with her a CBC platelet and plasma donor t-shirt emblazoned with the words, “I Am a Lifesaver.”
“I want something good to come out of this nightmare,” she said. “The thing they’re not reporting on is how many people have had it and have gotten better. The fact that I had it and I can help three or four different people – I want to be able to do that.”