NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) — A treatment that was even used to fight the Spanish Flu a century ago is now a weapon in the battle against the coronavirus.
Russ Camarda made it through COVID-19 and decided to donate his plasma to the New York Blood Center.
CBS2’s Dick Brennan first spoke to Camarda in early April when he was just recovering from the illness.
“It was pretty brutal,” Camarda said at the time. “It was a beast. It was a monster.”
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“It’s been five weeks. How are you feeling now?” Brennan asked Camarda on Wednesday.
“I feel much better,” Camarda said.
The coronavirus was a terrifying 16-day ordeal for Camarda, and he wanted some good to come out of it. That’s why he decided to donate.
“You felt so defeated and so frightened by what your prospects were when you were sick that you wanted something to feel like a victory, something to feel like you could contribute,” Camarda said.
He says the process was painless and only took about 30 minutes.
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The idea is to take the plasma from the blood of someone who has recovered from the coronavirus and give it to a patient still fighting it. The antibodies in the plasma then fight the illness.
“The convalescent plasma program is a phenomenal response in a wartime effort for extreme cases,” said Dr. Michele Blackwood with RWJBarnabas Health.
Using plasma to fight disease goes back 100 years, but it only very recently has been employed against the coronavirus.
“We still don’t know if convalescent plasma is an effective treatment against COVID-19, but they are using it more and more in the acutely ill because there is no effective treatment,” said Dr. Robert Segal, CEO of LabFinder.com.
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Demand for plasma is so high because so much is needed for one treatment.
“The blood bank has to put together the plasma from up to 10, maybe sometimes 12 people to get enough antibodies to transfuse to one person,” Blackwood said.
So every donation matters.
Because he made it through, Camarda wants someone else to make it, too.
“I am super grateful to be alive and breathing and walking in the sun and enjoying the spring when I thought I might not have that chance,” he said.
He now has the chance to pay it forward in hopes of saving a life.