Giving back after surviving COVID-19

By Emily Smaldino

A reflection from Port Jefferson Technician: Anthony J. Lepre.

My experience with COVID-19 started like typical flu symptoms last month. I had mild, lower back pain throughout the day, but then the pain spread into my legs.  By the end of the day, I had developed chills and had a low-grade fever.  The following morning, I was able to get to a clinic and get tested for the flu and COVID-19.  I didn’t receive the results that I was positive until approximately seven days of being quarantined at home.  It came as a surprise at how quickly I was affected by the virus.  I am in my late thirties, in relatively decent shape. It was extremely difficult to breathe over next two weeks.

While home with COVID-19, I also developed pneumonia that fortunately resolved on its own. I attempted to make breathing a little easier by taking over the counter cough medication,  but found there wasn’t a significant change with the cough or the tightness in my chest.   The cough that I had was severe, if I attempted to talk to anyone I would quickly suffer from shortness of breath and start coughing profusely.  During my time out sick, I found that every couple of nights I would spike a low-grade fever while feeling almost symptom free during the day. This proceeded to go on for another 10 days.

I am happy to report that I’ve been back at work for several weeks, and have made a full recovery. While I was out, it came to my attention that the New York Blood Center in Melville was looking for COVID-19 positive donors for their convalescent plasma. The research was showing that  plasma donations were a significant part of getting patients off ventilators and allowing them to show signs of improvement and recovery.  I contacted the blood center and started donating a few weeks ago. As part of the convalescent plasma donation, you can donate up to eight times. I am happy to report within the week, it will be my 3rd visit to New York Blood Center to complete another plasma donation.

I value this opportunity to give back, and hopefully help people that are suffering during this pandemic. It is important we work together to find a solution to this global problem.  Whether it’s with regular blood donations at our office blood drives, or being mindful of our surroundings. In addition, let’s all make sure we do everything we can to keep ourselves, families, colleagues and customers safe.

-Anthony J. Lepre