Steve’s Story: From COVID-19 Patient to Convalescent Plasma Donor
In early March, law enforcement officer Steve Vega was experiencing the early stages of what he thought to be a cold — cough, sore throat, chills, etc. But after two weeks of progressively worsening symptoms and a doctor’s visit that revealed early signs of pneumonia, what he had been seeing plastered all over the news had become his frightening new reality: On March 16, Steve tested positive for COVID-19.
Scared for the unknown, for himself and for his family, but determined to push through, Steve spent the next 14 days in quarantine and was ultimately able to recover on his own. Now, weeks later, he has become one of Stanford Blood Center’s very first COVID-19 convalescent plasma (CCP) donors.
Though not a regular blood donor, Steve had given blood twice in the past, most recently for a fellow law enforcement officer he saw on TV who he had never met but was in need. Always one to answer the call for his community, when he heard that donated plasma from those who had recovered from COVID-19 contained antibodies that, when transfused, could potentially save the lives of the most critically ill COVID-19 patients, he immediately sprang into action.
“I went through this experience, I lived it. Now I’m thinking, ‘What can I do to give back?’ Once I saw blurbs on T.V. about antibodies and blood, I immediately said, ‘Okay, I’m there.’” Steve gave his first CCP donation on Thursday, April 16. He confirmed that the donation process, which is just like a typical plasma donation, was easy and “went by pretty quickly” with team members answering his questions every step of the way.
Now, his donated plasma is being prepared to help patients, and Steve is doing all he can to spread the word about this opportunity to help others. “There’s all this negativity on the news. You see all the numbers of positive tests and it’s so awful; and then right alongside that data is the number of deaths. It’s all we’re seeing, so I have to help make this thing a little more positive if I can — do something, anything, to give people hope.”
Having spent over 20 years as a police officer and roughly 30 years as a regular community volunteer (primarily coaching children in baseball), Steve knows the value of lending a hand. “Service to others, in my opinion, is simply rewarding. It’s satisfying that I’m able to help someone through something, and that’s why I’m in the field I’m in and why I’m doing what I’m doing with the plasma program.”
Steve is looking forward to donating more plasma in the future and hopes to see other community members joining in to support those patients who need it most. If you have recovered from COVID-19 and are interested in learning more about the COVID-19 convalescent plasma program, visit stanfordbloodcenter.org/covid19plasma.