DAYTON, Ohio – Night after feverish night, Greta Steele dreamed she was locked in a motel room with no way out. The nightmares are all she remembers of the 10 days she spent on a ventilator at Reid Health, struggling to recover from COVID-19.
The coronavirus infection forced Greta to go from being a caregiver to a patient. She is a phlebotomist at Reid and will return to work after Memorial Day. On May 20 she found a way to help patients still suffering from the coronavirus nightmare by visiting Community Blood Center in Dayton to donate COVID-19 Convalescent Plasma.
Greta learned from Reid infectious disease specialist Dr. George Vail how COVID-19 Convalescent Plasma (CCP) from recovered COVID-19 patients is being used to treat those still critically ill with the virus. Community Blood Center began collecting CCP in early April and was the first blood center in the region to launch a CPP program.
Greta’s COVID-19 symptoms began with headaches and trouble breathing. She tested positive in March and was soon a patient at Reid. “I remember the doctor telling me we have to incubate you, we’ve got to do it,” she said. “I said OK. I don’t remember anything after that.”
Ten restless nights followed. “I had a lot of dreams while I was out,” said Greta. “I was trying to get out of a motel room that I couldn’t get out of.”
Did the motel in her dreams represent the confinement of hospital room? All that mattered to Greta was that the nightmare finally ended.
“I didn’t know where I was at first,” she said of her reawakening. “I couldn’t walk. I’ve always worked two jobs. I start back after Memorial Day, but just part time. I get exhausted.”
She said she was sleepy during the drive to Dayton, but she was determined to donate.
As an experienced phlebotomist Greta knows how to hunt for veins, and she knows her own veins are hard to find. She watched closely as CBC phlebotomist carefully prepared her for her first plasma donation.
She felt a sense of accomplishment once the donation was complete. Her antibody-rich plasma will be divided into doses to help boost the immune systems of up to three COVID-19 patients. It’s a treatment that was not available yet when she was fighting the virus.
“I know people who’ve had it (CCP) get over it better after they started on it,” she said. “So, I am all for it!”
Community Blood Center is recruiting eligible COVID-19 survivors to donate COVID-19 Convalescent Plasma (CCP). To be eligible the donor’s diagnosis of COVID-19 must be through RNA testing – NOT by an antibody test.
Information for donors and physicians is available at www.GivingBlood.org. Potential CCP donors can review the eligibility criteria and doctors can complete and submit the form needed to qualify potential donors for the CCP program.