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Maine man battling COVID-19 in hospital receives plasma donation

John Dorlean's wife said he needed convalescent plasma to save his life, but his rare blood type made finding a donor difficult -- until a social media post.

KITTERY, Maine — A Kittery man battling COVID-19 in the hospital received life-saving convalescent plasma from a donor Tuesday morning.

"Just knowing that somebody out there donated, that I have never met, meant the world to me and my three children," his wife, Wanda Dorlean, said.

John Dorlean, 43, was brought to the hospital on Christmas Eve. Because he has a rare blood type, it was difficult to find a convalescent plasma donor, Wanda said.

According to the American Red Cross, plasma in the blood of those who have recovered from COVID-19 may contain antibodies that attack the virus. 

Convalescent plasma is being evaluated as a possible treatment for those currently diagnosed with COVID-19.

"We are seeing a great increase in the number of COVID-19 hospitalizations not only here in Maine, but across the country," said Mary Brant, communications manager for the American Red Cross of Northern New England. "And this has caused the Red Cross to distribute a record number of convalescent plasma in the last month, and that is leading to a shortage in type AB and B plasma."

When Wanda posted a plea on social media, it was shared more than 1,000 times. Not even 24 hours later, a Portland man with the same blood type as John contacted her.

"[The man] just donated that day to the Red Cross, saw the post, and walked back into the Red Cross and told them he would like his donation to go to John. [John] is able to speak in full sentences. He is able to stand up for a minute on his own which is huge -- he wasn't able to do that. He went from 10 liters to 5 liters of oxygen," said Wanda.

She said she is incredibly grateful for the outpouring of love and support, and for the angel who she said is helping her husband get better.

She wants others who have recovered from COVID-19 to consider donating plasma to help someone else in need.

In coordination with the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA), the Red Cross is seeking people who are fully recovered from the new coronavirus to sign up to donate plasma to help current COVID-19 patients.

Wanda said John still has a long way to go but hopes he will be home in a few days. Her friends set up a fundraiser for the family.

Hello All, We are collecting these funds to help the Dorlean Family out financially at this time. John is currently battling Covid and there is going to be a long recovery process. We want the family to focus solely on supporting John through this illness.