San Antonio COVID-19 patient meets plasma donor he says saved his life

David Ibañez

SAN ANTONIO – David Herrmann got some news from his doctor that people these days are fearing: He tested positive for COVID-19.

“When he told me I was positive, I was terrified for my whole family,” Herrmann said in exclusive interview with ABC News. “My son and I worked out together the day before. I was like, ‘Oh my gosh, if I have it, I have given it to all these people.’”

The San Antonio businessman and three of his family members had been on a ski trip to an area in Colorado that he found out later had been a hot spot for COVID-19. Herrmann said he has no idea how he contracted the virus.

When Herrmann and his family returned to San Antonio, he had a doctor’s appointment for some lab work. When he told the nurses at the doctor’s office about his ski trip, he was given a COVID-19 swab test while sitting in his car in the parking lot.

Two days later, Herrmann, 53, found out he tested positive for COVID-19. But despite the positive test result, Herrmann said the only symptoms he had was a loss of taste and smell for about a day and a half. He wasn’t hospitalized and he and his family quarantined themselves for 14 days. He also notified everyone he had come in contact with.

“It was scary. It really is. I’m lucky that I didn’t get sick, and at the same time I’m sad that so many people are," he said.

After Herrmann recovered, he saw a news report about an experimental blood plasma treatment involving antibodies from former COVID-19 patients that was being tried on sick patients with success in New York and Houston. He did a Google search on where to donate blood plasma in San Antonio and found that the South Texas Blood and Tissue Center was involved in the treatment program. He reached out to STBTC and went in to donate plasma.

“I felt it was the right thing to do to help my community," Herrmann said about the reason for donating his blood.

Jimmie Hayden is thankful that Herrmann rolled up his sleeve.

Hayden, a San Antonio resident, was hospitalized for COVID-19. He was so ill that he was having to use a ventilator to breath.

Little did Hayden know that he was going to be the first COVID-19 patient to receive a blood transfusion with antibodies from a former and healthy COVID-19 patient -- Herrmann.

Two days later, the 47-year-old made significant progress, to the point where he was released from the hospital after being there for two weeks. Hayden attributes his dramatic recovery to the treatment.

Hayden is back home recovering slowly and very thankful for Herrmann’s gift of life.

“He is my hero and someone who I definitely hold dear to my heart, and again I can’t thank him enough," Hayden said.

Hayden and Herrmann met for the first time this week via video teleconference. The two men talked about the treatment, their families and the hope that a vaccine will be found for COVID-19.

Hayden said he’s thankful for the second chance he’s been given.

“I want to do things differently. I wasn’t doing it right before and God gave me a chance fix a lot of that, and that’s what I’m going to do. Make changes in my life that will help me, my family," Hayden said.

Hayden also hopes to help a COVID-19 patient like Herrmann did. He said the minute he’s cleared to donate plasma, he will the first donor at the door that day, ready to roll up his sleeve.

“That’s the best way I know to help someone is to pay it forward and do what David did," Hayden said.

Visit www.southtexasblood.org or email covid19@southtexasblood.org for information on how to donate plasma.

If you’re interested in receiving plasma you may email Dr. Bravein Amalakuhan, the doctor leading the efforts, at Drbravein@gmail.com

Previous Stories:

Former COVID-19 patient donates plasma to help other patients fighting virus

Local COVID-19 patient treated with plasma donated from recovered virus patient back home, family says

COVID-19 patient who received plasma from former patient plans to pay it forward

COVID-19 patient who received experimental treatment off ventilator, ‘doing great,’ wife says

Doctor explains experimental plasma treatment for COVID-19 patients

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