Lou Blessing’s remembers the exact date his COVID-19 symptoms began. It was Monday, December 14.
“My symptoms first manifested with a cough that would not quit. It was so severe that my stomach muscles became sore. And then after four or so hours, it suddenly stopped.”
Unfortunately, other COVID-19 symptoms continued for Lou (pictured above left). He had a consistent fever between 100 and 101, slight cough, heart rate of 95+, fatigue, as well as muscle aches and pains. These symptoms gradually got worse, and Lou was eventually admitted to Mercy Health – West Hospital on Christmas Day.
Lou’s hospital stay consisted of listening to code blue calls every night, being tethered four different ways to various machines, no privacy and little sleep. However, he emphasizes that all of that was due to COVID-19, and not the hospital or its staff.
“The Mercy Health team members made all those bad things bearable. They took very good care of me with concern, attention to detail, and yes, even humor, which helped a lot. My daughter-in-law says I can be a curmudgeon at times, and I’m sure I was during my stay. But the staff put up with me. I owe a great deal of thanks to the people of Mercy Health for pulling me through a very difficult time.”
As part of his treatment for COVID-19 at Mercy Health – West Hospital, Lou received convalescent plasma. People who have recovered from COVID-19 carry antibodies for the virus in their blood, and plasma is the yellowish liquid part of blood that carries these antibodies. Patients severely struggling with COVID-19, like Lou, are eligible to receive this donated plasma.
“I’m no physician, but I will say that I felt better after receiving convalescent plasma. I’m sure thankful that I could use someone else’s antibodies to fight this disease.”
As if Lou’s COVID-19 journey wasn’t compelling enough, it comes with a special twist. Lou’s son, Senator Louis (Bill) W. Blessing III, donated his own convalescent plasma just weeks before his father received this same treatment that helped save his life.
“I first started experiencing my own COVID-19 symptoms Halloween night,” Bill shares. “I chalked it up to something I ate because I did so quickly and felt an upset stomach and fatigue after. Later that night, I had horrible chills and knew something else was going on.”
By the morning, Bill (pictured above right) had body aches too. He got tested for COVID-19, informed those he had recently been in contact with and stayed at home waiting for his results.
“The day after the election my results came back positive. By this point my flu-like symptoms had subsided, but I had lost my sense of smell. Ultimately, COVID-19 didn’t result in too much disruption to my life. I’m very thankful that all I really needed was rest and ibuprofen.”
Bill was first introduced to the idea of donating his convalescent plasma, rich with COVID-19 antibodies, by a colleague who is a leader in health care.
“I didn’t think much of my donation at the time, as I don’t work at a hospital and don’t see what they see on a daily basis. Now I understand and would love to see more Ohioans donating. It’s another way besides wearing a mask that the average person can help in this fight.”
With his father being diagnosed with COVID-19 shortly afterwards and eventually needing convalescent plasma to survive, Bill’s own donation became personal and even more meaningful.
“I’m not certain we would have had the same outcome with Dad had he contracted COVID-19 early in 2020, when treatments such as convalescent plasma weren’t available, or when ventilators were in short supply. If you’ve recovered from COVID-19, consider donating your plasma. It is so important.”
“We are in this together, and that’s what Americans do,” Lou adds. “A simple donation may save the life of another. Think about that! I would encourage anyone who has recovered to volunteer a donation of their plasma to help others in need.”
Bill also shares that he is beyond grateful for the care his father received at Mercy Health – West Hospital.
“Mercy Health knocked this one out of the park. Two weeks in the hospital and they helped my dad conquer COVID-19. In terms of demographics, my dad was in the worst possible situation, but with their help he beat this virus.”
Learn more about convalescent plasma and how you can donate.
Stay updated on what Mercy Health is doing related to COVID-19.