Nurse with COVID-19 gets ‘perfect match’ blood donation

Coronavirus

Jose Jimenez tested positive for the coronavirus on March 30. He's currently on life support in Portland

PORTLAND, Ore. (KOIN) — A nurse in Oregon received a hard-to-come-by blood donation during his fight to beat COVID-19. 

Holly Jimenez told KOIN 6 News on Tuesday her husband, Jose, started getting sick on March 20. He had body aches, chills and was sleeping for most of the day. 

Holly and Jose Jimenez. (Courtesy of Holly Jimenez)

But Jose got worse. He went to a hospital in Springfield on March 28 and tested positive for the coronavirus two days later. 

The parents of six live about an hour south of Eugene in Oakland. Holly, who is also a nurse, said Jose had been working at a mental health unit at the Roseburg VA Health Care System when he became ill. They aren’t sure where Jose was exposed to the coronavirus. 

Holly said her husband declined on Monday so he was moved to an ICU in Portland and put on advanced life support. 

“I was able to see him yesterday as he was getting ready to go to Portland,” Holly said. “I thought he was going to die yesterday morning.” 

Jose’s doctors believed a donation of convalescent plasma could help him recover and they reached out to local blood banks to find it. The problem was that Jose has a rare blood type: AB positive.

“There is research supporting that the convalescent plasma can be helpful for these patients,” Holly said.

Jose and Holly Jimenez with four of their six children. (Courtesy of Holly Jimenez)

“It’s all study right now,” said Dr. Rebecca Haley, medical director at Bloodworks NW. “If we collected them and transfused them to someone else they probably could be helpful now we don’t know that for sure.”

According to Haley, there is evidence that probably over 80 percent have a large number of antibodies – those are the proteins that we make to fight off the disease.

“The FDA is asking us to distribute the plasma that way so that when this is over we will know what is working and what isn’t,” said Haley.

Holly said they worked to find the specific donation for several days. She recently posted about the need on Facebook and said many people have offered to help. 

“But they may be out-of-state or they might be A-positive or another blood type and have recovered,” she said. “But we are looking for specifically a perfect match.” 

On Wednesday, Holly posted that her husband had received one unit of convalescent plasma matching his blood type.

“He had a steady day with improvement in his vital signs and lab results,” she said, adding that Jose “will not need additional units at this time.”

If you’ve had COVID-19 and recovered, and are interested in helping others with COVID-19, please click here.

You can also support Jose and Holly by donating here.

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