Recovered COVID-19 patients donate convalescent plasma in Sumter

Some had received plasma themselves; others just wanted to help people who are sick


For Tracey and Bill Black, donating plasma was about doing the right thing, "being a part of the solution" to the pandemic. Plus, Bill pointed out with a grin, "we heard there were cookies."

The couple came to The Blood Connection's blood and plasma drive on Thursday at the American Legion in Sumter in partnership with Prisma Health. The plasma will be used to help those suffering from COVID-19.

Tracey, who is a nurse at Prisma Health Baptist Parkridge Hospital and has been helping provide community testing in the Midlands, said her son Will, 19, got sick first. He had a fever and a headache. Then her husband became ill with a fever and cough, a headache and random muscle soreness. He said the symptoms that lingered were the loss of his sense of taste and smell. Then Tracey began to get "really bad headaches and sweats without a fever."

None of the Black family members had to be hospitalized, so they were not critically ill enough to receive convalescent plasma, but they wanted to do their part.

"We want to help people," Tracey said. "I have friends who are nurses in the ICU who told me how remarkable the results were with their patients. So, we wanted to make the most out of a bad situation."

Vieyra Gerard also registered to donate Thursday.

"Somebody donated plasma to me when I was so sick, and I wanted to return the favor and help someone else out," he said.

When he learned he had to wait until three months had passed from when he received convalescent plasma, he said, "I'll definitely be back!"

Gerard is stationed at Shaw Air Force Base. He has four children, including a 6-month-old. He had been feeling poorly for a while, he said, but he thought it was just allergies. Someone in his work area tested positive for the virus, so he got tested as well.

"I wanted to make sure no one in my family was impacted," he said.

Then, about 10 days later, he "couldn't inhale." He went to the emergency room and was admitted to Prisma Health Tuomey Hospital on June 27.

"The nurses on the COVID unit were awesome," he said. "I felt bad for them. I know they had to be hot, wearing all that protective gear, but they were just great."

Gerard says he became the first person from the base to receive a convalescent plasma transfusion.

"I felt better within just a couple of hours," he said. "I was able to breathe without coughing."

Have you recovered from COVID-19?

Right now, donating plasma is the best way someone who's had the virus can help another person suffering serious effects of infection.

The antibodies in the blood plasma of someone who's recovered from the virus have the potential to fight off worsening infection, reduce recovery time and could be the difference between life and death.

If you'd like to donate plasma or whole blood, contact The Blood Connection at (864) 751-1168.

For information about COVID-19 testing site locations, a symptom checker or a free virtual exam, visit