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Recovered COVID Patients Sought for Help in Treating the Virus

January 14, 2021, 5:44 AM HST
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Michael Quay with team of doctors and nurses at HMC who treated him while hospitalized with COVID-19. (Courtesy HMC)

Michael Quay is looking to give back after almost dying of COVID-19 in September.

Quay, 63, of Hawaiian Beaches, spent two weeks in Hilo Medical Center fighting for his life.

“The experience of having COVID was horrible,” Quay said. “ (While at the hospital) I was in and out of the remembering things.”

The 63-year-old is now on the road to recovery and is looking to provide hope to those who are suffering from the disease by donating COVID-19 Convalescent Plasma (CCP), which contains antibodies that fight against the virus.

“Everybody who’s been given anything — like actors, musicians, the wealthy — should give back,” Quay said. “What I can give back is what I went through, the COVID antibodies.”

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On Wednesday, the Blood Bank of Hawai‘i (BBH) put out a call to people like Quay in its new campaign to “Fight COVID with COVID.”

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During a press conference over Zoom, BBH President and CEO Kim-Anh Nguyen said this new effort is meant to rally recovered patients to donate their COVID-19 CCP.

“We’re being hit very hard — the pandemic is worse than it’s ever been,” Nguyen said. “That’s why I’ve come to you for help.”

Quay has been looking for a way to donate his plasma for at least a month after hearing news of Lt. Gov. Josh Green, who is a recovered COVID patient, donating. The 63-year-old also recalled hearing the US Attorney General speak about the importance of donating CCP.

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During last summer’s local spike in cases, BBH was able to combine local CCP with imports from the mainland to cover the state’s needs. To date, 1,250 total doses have been distributed to 11 hospitals statewide and one California hospital.

The campaign’s goal is to obtain 100-150 new donors a month moving forward. CCP can be donated every 28 days, and of 186 total donors, 81 repeat donors have donated two or more times.

At this point, BBH hopes to replenish its stockpile of CCP.

“It’s an easy process, takes about an hour and you will directly contribute to the care of your community.” Green said of donating plasma.

Nguyen said Green and the other donors who have come forward are community heroes who chose to help others win their fight against the virus.

“We hope this campaign will inspire others to do the same,” she said.

Nguyen wants to spread the word that time is of the essence because of FDA guidelines related to COVID-19 vaccines. Because of a lack of research regarding the impact the vaccine has on antibodies, recovered COVID patients will not be allowed to donate plasma if they’ve been vaccinated.

BBH will be available to collect CCP on the Big Island in Hilo from Jan. 19-21 and Kona from Feb. 23-25.

All CCP donations require a pre-scheduled appointment. Residents who tested positive for COVID-19 and want to help are urged to contact Blood Bank of Hawaii via phone at 808-848-4706 or email [email protected] Visit bbh.org/FightCovid to learn more. Individuals with questions about operations during COVID-19 may visit bbh.org/COVID-19 or connect via social media. Follow Blood Bank of Hawaii @BloodBankHawaii.

The BBH campaign has collaborated with several community partners, which include: the Philippine Medical Association of Hawaii, the Native Hawaiian & Pacific Islander Hawaii COVID-19 Response Recovery and Resilience Team, and Pasefika Empowerment Association (PE’A).

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