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D-FW coronavirus survivors now plasma donors helping new patients recover

Baylor Scott & White in Irving has treated 31 COVID-19 patients with plasma from coronavirus survivors.

IRVING, Texas — For the Hagen family in Irving, coronavirus arrived at an extremely inopportune time: during pregnancy. But now, COVID-free, they are offering their time, and their plasma, to help the next coronavirus patient.

"We're excellent, we're doing very well," David Hagen said in a remote video interview. He was seated next to his wife Carly and their 3-year-old daughter Olivia as Carly held their months-old daughter Addy.

"It was a process, though," he said.

A process that began in early March. David, according to his doctors at Baylor Scott & White in Irving, was one of the first D-FW cases of community spread of coronavirus.

"The chest pain got really bad, trouble breathing," David, 31, said of the second trip he took to the emergency room seeking treatment. But once he arrived at the hospital wearing a protective mask and briefly describing his symptoms, hospital staff immediately jumped into action. 

"The nurses started talking about me maybe having COVID," he said. "And I was like, 'COVID, there's no way I have COVID. I haven't even traveled.' She was like 'Honey, you definitely have coronavirus.'"

At 36 weeks pregnant, Carly was diagnosed with a mild form of the virus, too. And on the day David was released from Baylor Scott & White in Irving after a four-day stay, Carly's doctors at Dallas Presbyterian told them it was time to induce. Baby Addy was born in precautionary COVID-isolation on March 23rd. And today, the entire family is virus-free.

Credit: Hagen Family

"We feel very lucky that David was OK, and the babies were OK," Carly said fighting back tears. "It's so very hard to even talk about."

"Are you really sad?" Olivia asked.

"No, Momma's happy," David answered.

And they are happy for one more reason. Because they have the chance to give back.

"Yes, anecdotally it's helping," said Dr. Steve Davis of Baylor Scott & White in Irving. He says plasma from donors like David and Carly is making a difference.

So far in Irving, medical teams have given 31 COVID patients plasma treatments from patients who have recovered from the virus. 

David, once declared officially virus-negative by Carter Blood Care, has been called on once so far to donate plasma to a matching patient. Carly has not yet donated plasma, given that she gave birth less than two months ago, but is willing to do so if a match is needed.

"We utilized it here as a stop-gap to having some other therapies available," said Davis, suggesting that treatments like remdesivir may be available at BS&W Irving in the near future. 

"This is with the very generous donation of this blood from persons who just several weeks area recovered from COVID themselves," Davis said.

Carter BloodCare says at least 50 people have donated, resulting in more than 150 doses of the convalescent plasma, for patients.

"I don't know if it's true but when the tech was taking my plasma, she said the color is fantastic it's full of antibodies," joked David Hagen about his plasma donation. "I was like, 'I suffered for those antibodies, I want to make sure everybody gets them!'"

Credit: Hagen Family

"I can't begin to tell you how blessed I feel," he said.

Blessed that as a coronavirus survivor he has the chance to give back, and to show off his Carter Blood Care t-shirt. With a picture of the microscopic virus crossed out with a red circle and stripe, it says "We'll get rid of this together."

"For no other reason than this shirt, everyone should go get some blood and plasma," Hagen joked.

Plasma that doctors, and an Irving family, feel is making a difference as the coronavirus fight rages on.

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