Battling Coronavirus: Man Who Benefited From Convalescent Plasma Therapy Finally Meets His Donor
NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) -- It was a life-saving donation from one stranger to another.
On Tuesday, a man recovering from coronavirus met the woman who helped save his life, CBS2's Aundrea Cline-Thomas reported.
Until the moment they met, Abbie Park and Scott Cohen were perfect strangers.
But their lives were already connected, months earlier.
"It's a great feeling. Luckily, I have a new friend, someone who really went out of their way for me without even knowing me," Cohen said.
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Cohen spent nearly the entire month of April in the hospital. At his worst he was on a ventilator, fighting for his life as doctors ran out of treatment options.
Around the same time, Park had just beaten COVID-19 and was among the first to go to the New York Blood Center to donate convalescent plasma -- the virus-fighting antibodies in her blood.
"It was definitely experimental. It wasn't when it works it was will it work? Or does it work?" Park said.
MORE: FDA Issues Emergency Authorization For Convalescent Plasma To Be Used As Treatment For COVID-19
Desperate to save not only Cohen but his father who was also battling COVID-19 in the ICU, the family created an online petition urging the hospital to try a new plasma therapy they heard of on TV. Nearly 20,000 signed it and the plea got into the right hands.
"Abbie's plasma showed up. Within 24 hours I was extubated. I was sitting up looking at an iPad on FaceTime with my wife and my three sons," Cohen said.
Sadly, it was too late for Cohen's father, who died of complications from the virus.
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A study from the National Institutes of Health found convalescent plasma is most effective when used early in treatment, improves the chance of survival, and can reduce the need for a ventilator and time spent in the hospital.
"To know that he was literally on death's doorstep is incredible," Park said.
It was a gift of hope she thought was a long shot. Now, it's a story they both live to tell.
So far the New York Blood Center has collected 65,000 units of plasma and has the capacity to do even more. It hopes to create an inventory for what it believes will be the second wave of the virus.
The New York Blood Center is hoping to get even more plasma donors, but it also need regular blood donations as the supply remains very low.
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