Metro Detroit COVID-19 survivors donate plasma to aid others in fight
Emi Jaffe was scared when she started to feel symptoms of COVID-19 almost two weeks before she was due to have her baby.
She felt blindsided when her pregnancy had to be induced in the hospital, alone. She felt overwhelmed when right after delivering her baby, she was taken to the intensive care unit for days.
Jaffe, 32, was assumed to have had the virus while she was in her last weeks of pregnancy. She received positive test results while she was in the ICU.
After negative test results for her baby and over a month later, Jaffe, a nurse at Beaumont Hospital in Royal Oak, has recovered from the virus and is now doing whatever she can to help others during the pandemic, including donating her plasma.
"I was able to make it out of this virus healthy and well," said Jaffe of Oak Park. "And if I'm able to help with other people who are going through this illness ... then I wanted to do as much as I could."
On Sunday, the Mayo Clinic and Detroit Hatzalah, a volunteer EMT service, held a plasma donation drive to help those who have contracted COVID-19.
Cars drove up to white tents in the parking lot of Yeshiva Beth Yehudah school in Oak Park. Volunteers in masks, gloves and hospital gowns collected the plasma from donors.
Dr. Daniel Lebovic, a hematologist at Ascension St. John Hospital, said those who have fully recovered from COVID-19 have antibodies that can fight off the infection and can help people currently fighting the virus with their plasma.
"There's really no good treatments for the coronavirus, and from other epidemics and pandemics, we have the sense that people who recover, they have antibodies in their blood that could be donated," said Lebovic, who oversaw the processing of the plasma samples at the drive.
Plasma is collected the same way that blood is donated, through a vein in the arm. The plasma then is sent to a lab to count for antibodies. If a person's antibody count is high enough, they are called to donate more plasma at a clinic.
Detroit Hatzalah and the Mayo Clinic also held a donation drive this month. About 250 samples were taken.
Not everyone is able to donate plasma. Eligible people include those who have tested positive for the coronavirus, those who've had symptoms but didn't test positive, those who have not had symptoms but live with someone who tested positive and front-line workers. To donate, people must also be symptom free for at least 14 days.
Deborah Bienstock, 49, of Farmington never took a COVID-19 test but she experienced symptoms for the virus about a month ago.
"Anything that helps manage this horrific problem we're dealing with, I just want to do what I can," said Bienstock. "So if I have something that's going to benefit someone else, I want to share it."
No other drives have been scheduled but if there is a demand, the organizations will hold another collection drive.
As of Sunday, Michigan has 47,138 confirmed virus cases and 4,551 deaths.
"... Unfortunately we've been hit very hard by the virus, so I think here, in particular, we have a responsibility to help out others," said Lebovic.