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Plasma helps Jenks man survive COVID-19

Keith Townsley.jpg
Keith with donor Skip.jpg
Keith's rotator bed 2.jpg
Keith's rotator bed.jpg
Posted at 10:08 PM, Jul 14, 2020
and last updated 2020-07-14 23:15:08-04

One of the vital weapons doctors are using to save the lives of COVID-19 patients is plasma from people who recovered from the virus.

With the surge of new cases, the need is growing desperate.

A Jenks man said that donation is the reason he's still alive.

"I feel like I'm a miracle because of a lot of people doing a lot of things that contributed to my well-being," said Keith Townsley, a coronavirus survivor.

Townsley got sick in early March and within days, he went to the emergency room with double pneumonia.

Before the test came back positive, doctors put him on a ventilator, which kept him alive for three weeks.

They then gave me the plasma and within two days, "I'm out of ICU and I'm up and I'm walking like 25 steps with a walker."

Plasma from recovered patients is one of the few treatments doctors can use to fight the coronavirus.

Dr. John Armitage with the Oklahoma Blood Institute said they're desperate for donors.

"Over the last five weeks, we've gone from supplying about 40 units a day to last week it was 270," Armitage said.

Oklahoma's rise in cases has depleted OBI's blood and plasma reserves.

"All that reserve is gone," Armitage said. "When you call up you are lucky to find a unit that somebody can share. That wasn't the case even two-three weeks ago."

When Townsley left the hospital, his donor was there to greet him. They've become friends.

"I tell him that he's my hero," Townsley said. "We've gotten together a couple of times."

Townsley thinks he may have gotten the virus from a friend who died from it. He knows he can't wait to donate his plasma to help someone else.

"Because I have been extremely fortunate, I do feel like I need to make sure that I pass it on," he said.

Townsley said we all need to take care of ourselves, wear a mask, wash hands and keep a distance.

He's now working with the Mayo Clinic to help with ongoing research into coronavirus.

If you would like to learn about donating plasma, visit the Oklahoma Blood Institute's website.

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