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Tampa woman recovered from COVID-19 donates blood to help others with the virus

Coronavirus

TAMPA (WFLA) — A woman who recovered from COVID-19 is now using OneBlood to help others with the virus.

Karen Heinberg lives in Tampa and believes she contracted the coronavirus at the Gasparilla Music Festival.

“I spent a lot of time there the weekend of the 7th and the 8th,” she said. “I had a friend in from Colorado and she stayed with me and also became sick on the same timeline that I did.”

At first she thought she was coming down with a simple cold.

“I felt fine. I thought I had a cold or bronchitis. I had plenty of energy,” she said.

She eventually experienced a fever, so her doctor suggested she be tested for COVID-19.

After 12 days, her results came back positive.

“I remained at home and I never had shortness of breath. I didn’t have a high fever, my temperature ran in the 99’s,” said Heinberg.

She’s now participating in a program with Florida Oneblood to donate blood to be used in an experimental program approved by the FDA.

“It helps every time a COVID-19 convalescent plasma donor shows up to donate because they are creating that ready inventory of convalescent plasma for these patients,” said Susan Forbes with Oneblood.

Forbes says the blood and plasma donations are being used to help critically ill patients.

“It all comes down to antibodies,” she said. “And people who have recovered from the coronavirus have developed antibodies to the virus and those antibodies remain in the plasma portion of their blood.”

Heinberg says she’s happy to help people who are suffering with the virus.

“I’m told those who are on the brink of death or facing death are the ones they are giving this plasma to, so if we have the opportunity to give back in a way that nobody else can or very few people can right now, why wouldn’t we do it,” she said.

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