SOUTH CHARLESTON, Ohio – A COVID-19 outbreak in the South Charleston community left members of the Journey of Faith Fellowship dismayed and uncertain how to respond. The answer came Oct. 8 as the church hosted the first community blood drive in the Community Blood Center region to include donations of convalescent plasma for COVID-19 patients.
“Back in July it hit all at once,” said Pastor Charles Wertz. “We had about 30 people come down with COVID. The Lord protected us through the first six months, then boom. We asked, ‘Lord what’s your purpose in this?’ Then we heard about the plasma and it was ‘Hello!’”
In early April CBC became the first blood center in Ohio to collect the antibody-rich plasma from COVID-19 survivors to help treat patients critically ill with the coronavirus. Since then demand from area hospitals continues to grow. CBC’s COVID-19 Convalescent Plasma (CCP) program has shipped more than 1,400 doses of CCP collected from 431 donors.
The Journey of Faith blood drive marked the region’s first collection of CCP at a location outside the Dayton CBC Donation Center. The blood drive totaled 24 whole blood donors and six CCP donors. It helped CBC double the average number of CCP donors for the day.
Church member Miranda Bobst, a nursing student at Cedarville University, took on the task of organizing the blood drive.
“I saw how the people here at my church were effected by the virus,” Miranda said. “I heard about the plasma and started asking questions. If we can take something this bad and miserable and make it good for the community, we can turn it around and make a difference, however we can.”
Miranda announced the blood drive to her nursing classes at Cedarville and recruited whole blood donors. “Right now, the blood center is in desperate need because people are sick all over,” she said.
Miranda planned to donate whole blood. She had never shown any symptoms of coronavirus infection, but when she took an antibody test, it came back positive. That meant she was qualified to donate convalescent plasma.
Miranda was the second CCP donor of the blood drive. The first to donate was Journey of Faith member and COVID-19 survivor Rebecca Whited from Springfield.
“I tested positive for COVID on June 30,” said Rebecca. “There was a graduation party and I was a photographer at it, and a lot of us got it.”
To protect her family, Rebecca and her 10-year-old daughter Carly spent three weeks quarantined in a house provided by the county health department.
“It was pretty rough,” she said. “I ended up in the ER. They said I had viral pneumonia, consistent with COVID-19. They gave me a strong steroid. Three days later I almost went back to the ER, but I held on for the next dose of steroid because I didn’t want to scare my daughter.”
Rebecca was out of work for a month. She said it has taken eight weeks to feel herself again. “I couldn’t really breathe,” she said. “I’m good now, but I couldn’t walk from the back of the store to the front of the store without having to rest.”
She admitted feeling anxious as she walked into the room in the church set up for CCP donors, but she never hesitated.
“Miranda got CBC to come out here,” she said. “This is to turn something bad into something good, to help other people.”
CBC is seeking COVID-19 survivors to become “Crisis Warriors” by donating their antibody-rich plasma for the treatment of COVID-19 patients. CCP donors will receive the “COVID-19 Crisis Warrior” t-shirt. Learn more and register to donate CCP at www.GivingBlood.org or call (937) 461-3220.