Columbus firefighter donates COVID-19 Convalescent Plasma to help others

Bexley resident Chris Stembridge is a Firefighter/EMT with the Columbus Division of Fire. A Capital University graduate, he married his sweetheart, Kendy, who attended rival school Otterbein. They have a two-year-old son and are expecting their second child in August. Chris is also an A negative blood donor.

Chris Stembridge is a Firefighter/EMT with the Columbus Division of Fire.

In early March, Chris became ill with flu-like symptoms, before strict stay at home guidelines were put in place in Ohio. He was eventually diagnosed with COVID-19. After several weeks, he fully recovered.

That’s when he became aware of a new initiative through the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) to help treat critically ill COVID-19 patients with plasma transfusions form donors who are fully recovered from the virus. He immediately signed up to help.

“If there was a chance that I could help, I felt I needed to help,” Chris said. “A common saying from the fire department is, ‘You’re not just a firefighter while you’re on the clock. That mindset to help others and try to solve problems continues even off duty.’” After registering to be a COVID-19 convalescent plasma donor, just a few days later he was able to give his donation with the American Red Cross on April 12, making him the very first Red Cross COVID-19 convalescent plasma donor in Central Ohio.

“I would encourage all those who have tested positive for COVID-19 to consider becoming a donor. In a time like we are facing now, the chance to truly provide a potentially lifesaving solution for another individual by providing a couple hours of time is truly amazing. I’m fortunate that I was able to help. I hope others follow suit and join the process.”

In coordination with the FDA, the Red Cross is seeking people who are fully recovered from the new coronavirus to sign up to donate plasma to help current COVID-19 patients.

People who have fully recovered from COVID-19 have antibodies in their plasma that can attack the virus. This convalescent plasma is being evaluated as treatment for patients with serious or immediately life-threatening COVID-19 infections, or those judged by a healthcare provider to be at high risk of progression to severe or life-threatening disease.

To participate, individuals must meet all regular blood donation requirements as well as others. To learn more and complete a donor request form, please visit www.RedCrossBlood.org/plasma4covid.

About the American Red Cross
The American Red Cross shelters, feeds and provides emotional support to victims of disasters; supplies about 40% of the nation’s blood; teaches skills that save lives; provides international humanitarian aid; and supports military members and their families. The Red Cross is a not-for-profit organization that depends on volunteers and the generosity of the American public to perform its mission. For more information, please visit redcross.org or cruzrojaamericana.org, or visit us on Twitter at @RedCross.

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