COLUMBIA, S.C. — A blood plasma recipient was able to meet and thank her donor, virtually, on Tuesday for a treatment she said saved her life.
“As hard as I tried could not get air in past my clavicles right here. I kept trying and trying to breathe and had a horrific cough. Everything that I had tried to do it just didn't seem to help. My temperature soared up to 103.9,” said Lisa Hardin about her experience with COVID-19.
On April 7, the Prisma nurse and Richland County resident was diagnosed with COVID-19 and a few days later had bilateral pneumonia.
Hardin said after trying to get two other experimental treatments, which did not work out, she was told on Easter Sunday there was a COVID-19 antibody plasma donation coming her way.
“I rapidly got better, my husband said I was like two different people. It was night and day for me,” Hardin said.
She continued, saying her sense of taste and smell returned the next morning and she made a quick recovery after the donation.
On Tuesday, she was finally able to speak with her donor, Harriett Whitaker.
“I'm just so happy to know that it helped you the way that it did. And, it's just hard to describe what it feels like to know you saved somebody's life doing something that, to me, seems so simple,” Whitaker said.
“I can't thank you enough, cause you did give me the gift of life by sharing your immunity with me. I will be forever grateful,” Hardin added.
Both women were fighting back tears as they met virtually for the first time.
Whitaker lives in Tennessee and was asymptomatic with COVID-19. She was tested after her husband tested positive for the virus.
Eventually, they both donated convalescent plasma with Blood Assurance in Tennessee, which then sent it to the Blood Connection in South Carolina, which then sent it to Hardin at Prisma Health in Richland.
“What you did saved my life, I know that it did. I just was feeling like I was wearing out and I couldn't keep fighting on my own,” Hardin said.
At the time, The Blood Connection had not collected plasma yet, so when Prisma Health requested the treatment for Hardin, the Blood Connection reached out to its partner in Tennessee.
After a four hour drive, the plasma was given to Hardin.
Prisma Health and The Blood Connection are partners participating in a convalescent plasma investigatory treatment to test the effectiveness of plasma donations from recovered COVID-19 patients in those still severely or critically ill.
As of now, The Blood Connection has collected hundreds of plasma donations and sends out about 20-30 units a day, according to staff on the virtual call.
This particular Easter Sunday plasma was a gift of life and more time, Hardin and her husband said Tuesday is also their 30th wedding anniversary.