Arizona man donates his plasma after recovering from coronavirus

Apr 18, 2020, 5:00 PM | Updated: Apr 19, 2020, 9:51 am
Jack Schmittlein (Courtesy Photo)...
Jack Schmittlein (Courtesy Photo)
(Courtesy Photo)

PHOENIX — After testing positive for the coronavirus and recovering, 21-year-old Scottsdale resident Jack Schmittlein is helping others fight off the virus by donating convalescent plasma.

Vitalant, a blood service provider in Phoenix, launched a program allowing former positive coronavirus patients that have since tested negative to donate the blood component containing antibodies which could boost patients’ abilities to fight off the coronavirus.

Schmittlein on Wednesday became Vitalant’s first donation of convalescent plasma.

He joined KTAR News 92.3 FM’s The Mike Broomhead Show on Friday and said he was recruited by the Mayo Clinic to take part in the program at Vitalant after testing negative for the virus.

“They basically said that this treatment they are doing is very new in the first stages,” Schmittlein said.

“Since I was one of the first people in the state to probably test negative since I got it earlier on, I thought if I’m in a position to help somebody out I would love to,” he added.

Individuals who can donate convalescent plasma must have a prior diagnosis of coronavirus documented by a laboratory test, be symptom-free for at least 14 days and meet all current FDA requirements regarding plasma donation.

Schmittlein believes he caught the virus while studying abroad in Spain. He tested positive for the virus on March 18 and later tested negative on April 2.

Vitalant informed Schmittlein that he could donate plasma again in a week, and he has another appointment already scheduled.

“As long as I’m in a position to do it, I’m going to do it and try to help some people,” Schmittlein said.

Convalescent plasma has been designated as an “emergency investigational new drug,” by The Food and Drug Administration and is currently the only antibody treatment option available to coronavirus patients.

There is currently no known cure or vaccine for the virus.

Those who meet the criteria to be a donor can apply to donate online or call (866) 287-5762.

Schmittlein said he had a minor head cold while in Spain, but didn’t think much of it because it went away. He later experienced tightness in his chest and lost taste, two symptoms of the coronavirus, after returning home.

He was allowed to get tested after finding out one of his roommates who was in Spain with him tested positive for the virus.

Schmittlein described feeling asymptomatic when he tested positive.

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