CORPUS CHRISTI, Texas — Convalescent plasma donations from recovered COVID-19 patients are making a difference in the Coastal Bend by helping others recover quicker.
“I had fevers, body aches," said local ER doctor Trenten Martinez. "The way I describe it to people, I feel like I ran a track meet but played a football game the day before. It was horrible. I was exhausted. I had a pretty good idea that I had it.”
That was just the beginning for Martinez, who has since recovered from COVID-19.
Now, his plasma is being used to help others battling the virus in our community.
During the city's COVID-19 update on Tuesday, Local Health Authority and infectious disease Dr. Srikanth Ramachandruni called the plasma a gamechanger.
"They develop antibodies that neutralize the virus because they fought the virus," Ramachandruni said. "They got better. So this is the best antiviral treatment that we can have right now, as antiviral drug trials take some more months."
He added that one patient's plasma can save two or three lives. Something Martinez knew he wanted to do immediately.
"As soon as I heard that people who were recovering were able to help those more critically-ill with their plasma, it was a nobrainer for me," he said.
Martinez donated his plasma on April 7.
"They had told me that there was two sick patients that my plasma was going to be used for," he said. "And I honestly feel like that's the best work I've done since being a doctor. It was a really good feeling."
On Wednesday, Ben Snodgrass became the fifth recovered COVID-19 patient to donate plasma at the Coastal Bend Blood Center.
Snodgrass got his positive COVID-19 results following the second day of drive-thru testing here in Corpus Christi.
His symptoms went away and he took another test last week showing he was negative.
After giving four units of his plasma on Wednesday, Snodgrass told KRIS 6 News he was feeling the best he's felt in awhile.
"To be able to get on the other side of this and actually be able to contribute positively to other people recovering -- having a better, quicker recovery. It’s a great feeling." he said. "And I needed a good pick-me-up after the past few weeks. This is definitely it.”
And he is encouraging others who meed the criteria to donate.
"For those out there that had to fight it like me, come and donate your plasma. We can help some other folks and get some positive out of the situation," Snodgrass said.
As someone who fought it, and as a doctor, Martinez wants people to understand that the reaction to COVID-19 is warranted.
"I think that a lot people think it's not as bad or that it's being blow out of proportion. As much as I wish that was the case, it's just not," Martinez said. "It's real, it's here, people are getting sick from it. I can't stress it enough -- doing what we can to stay home so that we can come through this together as a community."
"Even though it seems like there's no light at the end of the tunnel, there is. It's just going to take a little bit more time."
For information on the criteria to donate plasma, click here.