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A Florida man battling COVID-19 came out of a medically induced coma on Easter Sunday — days after receiving plasma donated by someone who had recovered from the virus, according to a local report.
A few days after that, Michael Kevin Rathel was taken off the ventilator and breathing on his own, Fox 35 reported.
“We are in a very different place than we were 24 hours ago,” his wife, Stacie, told the outlet Wednesday, after speaking to her husband over FaceTime. “He was even cracking jokes with the nurses. So I thought, OK yeah, he’s back.”
Doctors at Orlando Health initially put him on a ventilator and into the medically induced coma on April 4, according to the report. He received plasma therapy four days later.
“The donor had the proper blood type to allow his plasma to be given to Kevin. Things lined up the way we could have hoped for,” said Dr. George Ralls, vice president of quality and clinical transformation for Orlando Health.
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The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) approved the plasma treatment on March 24, and officials at the hospital said it can be administered on a case-by-case basis.
Blood centers and hospitals around the country are calling for people who have recovered from the coronavirus to donate their plasma to help treat critically ill patients.
NY BLOOD CENTER CALLS FOR PLASMA DONATIONS FROM RECOVERED COVID-19 PATIENTS
“This is something anyone who has recovered from COVID-19 should be aware of,” Dr. Ralls said. “The goal is to have enough plasma in inventory, so we don’t have to rely on a one-to-one connection as we did in this case. We need to have an inventory of plasma that can be used for patients no matter where they are.”
Donors must have tested positive for COVID-19 and be symptom-free for 14 days, then test negative for the virus, according to Orlando Health. A single donation can treat two to three patients.
“In the treatment, known as convalescent plasma, the patient is transfused with the donor’s plasma with the goal of using the donor’s antibodies to help clear the virus more rapidly and help decrease the need for ICU beds and ventilators,” New York Blood Center said in a statement to Fox News earlier this month.
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The number of confirmed coronavirus cases in the U.S. was over 640,000 as of Thursday morning, according to Johns Hopkins University, and more than 31,000 people have died from COVID-19. More than 53,000 people have recovered.
As for Rathel, his wife told Fox 35 that he could be taken out of the ICU as early as Thursday — but he has not yet made a full recovery.
Fox News’ James Rogers contributed to this report.