Oklahoma COVID-19 survivor helps foundation study impacts of virus

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OKLAHOMA CITY (KFOR) – COVID-19 impacts each one of us differently. 

Some of us suffer from severe symptoms, while others don’t even know they have the virus.

The Oklahoma Medical Research Foundation has been trying to find out exactly why that is. 

They’re doing it with survivors’ blood donations. 

Survivors like local physical therapist James Richardson. 

“I mean it was like a switch. I was fine the night before and then, done,” said Richardson. 

He never though COVID-19 would hit him as hard as it did. 

“I’m like I gotta go to the hospital, something’s wrong,” he said. 

He’s a healthy guy who works out regularly, but back in March, COVID-19 knocked him down. 

He says he was light-headed, had intense headaches, shortness of breath, and a high fever. 

“I kept telling myself there’s no possible way this could be coronavirus. I knew something was wrong,” he said. 

His symptoms got worse. 

Richardson spent the next few days at Integris Baptist. 

“My experience, I mean as bad as it was, it was still less than others by far,” he said. 

Fortunately, Richardson recovered. 

He’s now donating convalescent plasma, as well as his own blood, to the Oklahoma Medical Research Foundation where scientists are studying his antibodies. 

“The overall goal of our project is to try to understand why some people get really sick with COVID-19 and other people have mild disease,” said Dr. Linda Thompson, a member in the Arthritis and Clinical Immunology Research Program  

The project is funded by a federal grant. 

Researchers are hoping to unlock the mystery as to why COVID-19 impacts people in different ways, but they need help. 

“We couldn’t do anything if people didn’t volunteer,” said Dr. Thompson. 

When they find an answer, it could even improve COVID-19 vaccine design. 

“In order to know the vaccines are doing the best job they can, we have to understand when somebody gets sick and gets over the disease,” she said. 

With each donation, Richardson is helping our state get closer to beating this virus together. 

“I mean the worst part is the needle, but I can get past that,” he laughed. “Don’t focus on the past, focus on where you’re at and move forward.” 

For more information on how to donate, call OMRF at 405-271-7221.

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