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COVID-19 patient is closer to recovery after receiving plasma donation

Richard Stevenson's family feared the worst. Now, there's hope since he received blood plasma donated from someone who has recovered from COVID-19.

BRUNSWICK, Maine — You may remember last month we shared the story of Richard Stevenson, a man from Vinalhaven fighting COVID-19 at Midcoast Hospital in Brunswick.

At the time of our story, he was waiting for a blood plasma donation from someone who has recovered from the coronavirus. This method is being evaluated as a possible treatment for people who are very sick from the virus. It's believed that this type of plasma has antibodies in it that can help fight the virus. 

Now, we have an update from Stevenson’s family.

RELATED: Family of Maine COVID-19 patient hopes plasma donations can save his life

His wife of 30 years, Catherine Stevenson, said he received the plasma donation last month. 

Not long after he was able to leave the hospital, and walked out on his own, with the team at Midcoast Hospital cheering him on.

At his worst, he was on a ventilator and could not speak. 

"My last words to him before he went on the ventilator were, 'I will fight for you, I love you,"' Catherine Stevenson said.

Now he can speak a little and is continuing his recovery at a rehab facility in Portland.

His family says they thought he would not make it at one point and they could not stomach the concept of saying goodbye through a cellphone or computer screen. 

"There are all these families and all these people in the world right now who are losing family members right now who never got a chance to say goodbye. You don't get that chance with this virus," she explained.

“You can see him walking out. Richard E Stevenson Jr. was the first in Maine to receive convalescent COVID-19 Plasma along with Actemra, the Mid Coast Hospital Angels, love and PRAYER🙏🙏🙏 these saved his life!” Catherine Bunin-Stevenson #Richstrong

Posted by Melinda Bonner Stevenson on Wednesday, May 13, 2020

"It's really heart-wrenching," said Morgan Moores, a nurse, and director of the ICU at Midcoast Hospital.

Moores said normally they do their best to involve a patient's family in their care. With coronavirus, that becomes complicated and they have to be creative using technology.

She said the team at Midcoast Hospital is fortunate to be part of MaineHealth because they have access to the latest research and trials.

And in Richard Stevenson's case, he received donated plasma, a method being studied to possibly treat critically ill coronavirus patients.

Days later, his health took a turn, for the better.

Moores said they have what they call "code sunshine" to cheer on patients as they leave the hospital, one step closer to recovering from coronavirus. Richard got a round of applause, and then some.

Since we first aired Richard’s story, many of our viewers reached out telling us that they have donated or planned to donate plasma. So, from Richard’s family, "thank you!"

RELATED: Road to recovery: Mainers share personal stories of coronavirus, COVID-19 diagnosis

If you've had COVID-19 and can donate plasma, there are several ways you can do that according to the Food and Drug Administration. You can contact the American Red Cross or Blood Centers of America just to name a couple.

If you haven't had COVID-19 and still want to help -- the FDA says please consider donating plasma anyway -- the pandemic has caused unprecedented challenges for the nation's blood supply.

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At NEWS CENTER Maine, we’re focusing our news coverage on the facts and not the fear around the illness. To see our full coverage, visit our coronavirus section, here: /coronavirus

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