Donating plasma: Sarasota doctor helping coronavirus patients after recovering from virus herself

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SARASOTA, Fla. (WFLA) – A Tampa Bay area doctor has recovered from COVID-19 and is now giving back to others who are fighting the virus. 

Sarasota radiologist Dr. Maria Finazzo became the first person to donate convalescent plasma at SunCoast Blood Centers after fighting and recovering from the coronavirus. 

“As a doctor, even as a citizen, I think we all have a responsibility to do what we can to help people in this situation,” Finazzo said. “I realized I would be an ideal person to donate because I am relatively healthy and because I had recovered well.” 

Finazzo tells WFLA.com she first became interested in donating convalescent plasma after learning about a friend who fell ill with the virus.

“A friend of mine in Tampa was ill and I was interested in donating to him because he was in the ICU,” said Finazzo.

According to the SunCoast Blood Center, convalescent plasma can be transfused to critically ill patients with the coronavirus infection. The antibodies present in the plasma may help patients fight the COVID-19 infection. 

“My plasma could potentially help up to four patients, hopefully. It was an hour overall (of my) time, which is a little longer than a standard blood donation. It was just an easy thing for me to do,” said Finazzo. 

Ultimately, a convalescent plasma transfusion may be able to boost a patient’s immune system and potentially help them recover. 

SICK WITH THE CORONAVIRUS:

Finazzo believes she and her husband, a gynecologist in Sarasota, contracted COVID-19 after traveling to or from Denver in early March. 

“We returned on the 10th of March. Two days later, I started feeling a little bit sick,” she said.

Dr. Finazzo says her symptoms included a sore throat and body aches. Shortly thereafter, Finazzo developed what she calls a “significant cough.”

“Then my husband, the day after I was ill, he became severely ill,” said Finazzo.  

WHY YOU SHOULD DONATE:

Since the couple’s COVID-19 diagnoses, both have made a full recovery. Now the radiologist is urging others who have recovered from the coronavirus to donate their plasma and possibly save others. 

According to SunCoast Blood Center, potential donors must pass FDA criteria including: 

  • Having a prior diagnosis of COVID-19 documented by a laboratory test or doctor’s note (those who think they had COVID-19 but were not tested may still be eligible to donate convalescent plasma and should contact SunCoast Blood Centers for more info) 
  • Complete resolution of symptoms 
  • Meeting current blood donation protocols 

Potential donors can contact SunCoast for more information and must schedule an appointment by calling (866) 972-5663 or emailing covid19@suncoastblood.org

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