Oklahoma City couple still able to donate convalescent plasma 8 months after recovering from COVID-19

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OKLAHOMA CITY (KFOR) – An Oklahoma couple that was one of the first in the state to test positive for COVID-19 still has enough antibodies in their system to make useful convalescent plasma donations. 

Ted and Margaret Merritt say not long after recovering, they started donating plasma to help others fighting the virus.  

“It’s certainly a blessing to have had it, and recovered from it,” Ted told News 4. “A great blessing of the built-in immunity that you have the opportunity to share with someone else and help them to recover.”

The Meritt’s say they first started donating to support a family friend.  

“I had a friend whose daughter had contracted COVID. That daughter was in the Tulsa area, she was actually a PA,” Margaret said. “My friend contacted me, I had already decided I wanted to do this, but wanted to know if I could donate for her daughter.”

Margaret wasn’t able to donate specifically for her friend’s child, but the Oklahoma Blood Institute says the Merritts’ combined plasma has helped 29 people in 17 hospitals and eight different cities. 

Unfortunately, having enough antibodies to donate, months after the illness, is not the norm.  

“1/6 of the donors who stepped forward at some point during this pandemic have already dropped their antibody levels so that we can’t use them,” President and CEO of the Oklahoma Blood institute Dr. John Armitage said.  

Dr. Dale Bratzler with OU Medicine says retaining antibodies is something that varies from person to person, just another mystery of COVID-19.  

“Some people that get COVID-19 have limited antibody responses, and don’t have much in their blood,” Bratzler said. “That doesn’t necessarily mean they are not immune.”

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