Local coronavirus survivor donates plasma to help other patients

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CHEEKTOWAGA, N.Y. (WIVB)– A local woman, who’s now recovered from coronavirus, is doing her part to help someone else infected by the virus.

“We knew that we could never pay it back, we were just committed to paying it forward,” said Samantha Gomolka
That’s what brought Samantha Gomolka to the American Red Cross donation center in Cheektowaga.

She hopes her plasma will help someone fighting coronavirus. A fight she knows all too well.

“I really started with just a headache and headache is such a vague symptom I attributed it to stress or dehydration,” said Gomolka.

Gomolka, who has since recovered from the virus, first developed symptoms back in March. Her family was also infected.

“The response that we got when we were quarantined was overwhelming in the most wonderful sense,” said Gomolka.

Gomolka says this is her way of donating it forward.

“Those that have recovered from the virus have such a wonderful opportunity to extend a helping hand to those still fighting the virus,” said Gomolka.

The American Red Cross and other blood donation organizations are joining the efforts to collect convalescent plasma to help treat the most seriously ill covid-19 patients.

“We would collect the plamsa which is assumed to have these antibodies and then that plasma would be collected and sent to a hospital and when it’s transfused to a patient who has covid-19, those antibodies will help their immune system fight off the virus,” said Dr. Lawrence Fialkow, medical director of the New York region for The American Red Cross.

Dr. Lawrence Fialkow says hospitals are in need of convalescent plasma right now. He says those who have recovered can donate when they no longer have symptoms.

“The convalescent plasma is kind of thought of as a bridging mechanisms to keep these patients safe and help them recover until we’re able to find not only medications that would help treat this but also develop a vaccine,” Dr. Fialkow.

While it may be a while for a vaccine, Gomolka says this is something she and others can do now to help.

“And if I could save one person, one family, to really change a life, I’m absolutely all in,” said Gomolka.

Shannon Smith is an anchor and reporter who has been part of the News 4 team since 2017. See more of her work here.

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