‘This illness is not a hoax’: Bradenton couple shares ‘nightmare’ COVID-19 experience

Manatee County

MANATEE COUNTY (WFLA) – Ron and Roseanna Chase came face to face with the coronavirus at the start of the pandemic, far before masks and temperature checks became a normal part of our everyday lives.

The couple was celebrating their 45th wedding anniversary on a transatlantic cruise.

Before embarking on their journey, the couple asked multiple times if anyone on the ship had the virus. They say they were told “no.”

“If they ever said anything was on the ship, we would’ve gotten on a plane and flew back, we would have went home right away,” Ron said. “But they said everything was OK.”

The trip in early March quickly turned into a nightmare once they learned people onboard had contracted the virus. Their cruise ship was stranded in Europe for several days before anyone was allowed off.

“We were quarantined in the room for six days,” Roseanna said.

The Bradenton couple was traveling with another couple from Manatee County. When they returned home weeks later, all four of them were ill.

“My friend Tom and I had a hard time walking off the plane, so that is when we knew that our lungs were going,” said Ron. “I had cramps all through my whole body. I was dehydrated, then I ended up with the acute kidney failure.”

Chase and his friend Tom ended up in Sarasota Memorial Hospital’s COVID unit. Both men and their wives tested positive for the virus.

Tom didn’t survive.

“This illness is not a hoax by no means. It is true and until you have somebody who died from it, you don’t know,” said Roseanna.

Roseanna and Ron say they are fortunate to have recovered from the virus, but they’re not 100% back to normal.

“It’s still a nightmare. It still doesn’t end,” said Roseanna.

“It is etched in your mind forever; it’s something you will never forget,” Ron added.

Ron tells 8 On Your Side he has been dealing with heart and lung issues since he was hospitalized for COVID-19 and frequently experiences shortness of breath.

“I can’t be outside for long. I can’t work around the yard for a long time. I just lose air, I just don’t have the stamina to do it,” he said.

As cases across our area continue to climb, the couple is urging people to take the virus seriously, take precautions and wear masks.

“You need to protect your fellow Americans. You protect them, they protect you,” said Ron.

Since recovering from the virus, Ron has been donating his plasma in hopes of helping others battling the virus.

“I won’t stop giving until they say I can’t. I have that type of blood that everybody can use; not everybody has that opportunity to give back,” he said.

Doctors say convalescent plasma has become their first line of treatment for COVID-19. Local hospitals are having to ration plasma due to shortages from area blood banks.

The couple encourages anyone who can, to donate.

Suncoast Blood Centers says each time a recovered COVID-19 patient donates their plasma, it can help save four lives.

For more information on how you can donate, you can visit Suncoast’s website.

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