May 4, 2020

DAYTON, Ohio - Robyn Petras if a fighter.  She has spent her life battling Cystic Fibrosis and beating the odds.   With her compromised respiratory system, she was at critical risk when she became infected with the coronavirus COVID-19.  But against the odds again, she battled back.  She chose to help others as a COVID-19 Convalescent Plasma donor, and that became yet another fight to struggle and win.

Roby lives in Columbus and traveled to Dayton Community Blood Center on April 27. It was her first attempt at donating convalescent plasma and required special approval.  Her phlebotomists tried veins in both arms, but the attempts failed.  She resolved to be better hydrated when she returned to try again.

"I'm glad to be alive," she said. "I've been through a lot in my life because of cystic fibrosis. Compared to what I've endured that trial felt easy!"

Robyn said she started a new drug last November that drastically improved her condition with CF.   She used every resource available to fight COVID-19.

"I was actually very fortunate because I've had every tool you can use," she said. "I started using my tools every 24 hours to keep my lungs clear. I was able to exercise. I wanted to keep moving, I wanted to eat healthy, do a lot of meditations to keep my mind positive, do the best I could to keep my lungs clear so that pneumonia didn't set in.  As far as symptoms, had a large amount of infection that lasted about 10 days. But it continued to clear, and I got to a point where my lungs were back to the optimal health."

As promised, Robyn returned to CBC on May 1 and the second time was the charm. She successfully donated CPP and posed for a photo with fellow CPP donor William Stack, who was donating CPP for the second time.

"It was successful," she said. "Your place of work is amazing. Staff is incredible."

She shared the good news with friends at the National Institutes of Health.

"I had a wonderful experience," she wrote. "I was able to donate my plasma in Dayton, Ohio. Dayton is two hours from my home, but they are ahead of the process in our state with plasma donations for COVID recipients. 

"It was my second attempt. The first attempt my veins would not cooperate. I hydrated well for a few days and tried again. I was able to give all 600 milliliters.  I found the Dayton Community Blood Center efficient, compassionate, and safe.  

"My veins are well tapped from years of living with CF, so I need to be careful. I'm able to donate every 14 days but will stretch it out to once a month.  

"The strangest feeling as I waited was calmness. No matter the outcome, my life did not depend on this procedure as other ones in my life. 

"Within 24 hours my plasma became available for release for a matching blood recipient. I donated in honor of your hard work on behalf of cystic fibrosis. 

"I will give my veins a rest and return."

Community Blood Center is now recruiting eligible COVID-19 survivors to donate COVID-19 Convalescent Plasma (CCP). Their antibody-rich plasma has the potential to save the lives of critically ill COVID-19 patients.

Information for donors and physicians is available at Potential CCP donors can review the eligibility criteria and doctors can complete the form needed to qualify potential donors for the CCP program.