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

Plasma donated from recovered patients is being evaluated as a possible treatment for some coronavirus patients, including Richard Stevenson.

BRUNSWICK, Maine — "I've been married to this man for 30 years."

Catherine Stevenson remembers the day she promised Richard Stevenson she'd love him forever.

"He is a native Mainer as he would tell me, from Vassalboro, Maine, born and raised," she explained.

Ask her about him today she'll still tell you, "I love this man."

But that promise of a lifetime together is no longer up to them. 

"Truly in our 30 years of marriage, my husband has never been sick," Catherine said.

Right now Catherine and their daughter, Lexie, can't hug him and can't hold his hand due to COVID-19. They can only see him through a screen. 

"It's one of those things you think it's really not going to happen to you," Lexie Stevenson said.

This was the year Catherine and Richard were supposed to celebrate a milestone anniversary.

This is the year their little girl turned 21, and they could finally say "cheers."

Instead, this is the year of COVID-19, the virus that has crumbled their rock.

"My dad is in the process of dying and we are trying to save his life right now," Lexie said. "This is how serious this is and how serious people need to take it."

"The fact that this virus has taken him down is literally shocking," Catherine added.

It's especially shocking because they don't know how Richard got the virus.

"We started social distancing at the beginning of March because my mother lives with us who is 95 years old," Catherine said.

But they do know there's one thing that's showing promising results: Plasma donated from coronavirus patients who have recovered. The FDA says there's information that suggests it might help some patients recover thanks to antibodies that can attack the virus.

"Even if you don't have my dad's blood type please go and donate because you are going to be helping somebody else's father, somebody else's mother, somebody else's loved one and you cannot put a price tag on that," Lexie said.

"It's the COVID convalescent plasma therapy clinical trial through the Mayo Clinic that is then administered through the American Red Cross," explained Catherine, who works in the medical field as a dentist.

While Richard has lost his voice, Catharine is renewing her vows. This time, she's promising to get him the plasma his life depends on.

Richard is at Midcoast Hospital and his family says the team there has been amazing. 

To connect with the family to help, send them an e-mail at plasma4richard@gmail.com.

Because more than 80% of blood donations are made at blood drives ho... sted by volunteers, blood drive partners play a vital role in helping the Red Cross ensure blood is available for patients at about 2,500 hospitals across the US. We celebrate you & all of our volunteers this National Volunteer Week.

There are a few requirements to donate plasma for this trial. You must be at least 17 years old and weigh 110 lbs. You must generally feel well, even if you're being treated for a chronic condition.  And you must have a prior, verified diagnosis of COVID-19 but are now symptom-free and fully recovered from COVID-19.

For more information or to sign up visit redcrossblood.org.

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