Memphis doctor donates blood plasma to help others fight coronavirus

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MEMPHIS, Tenn. — A Mid-South doctor stepped up to donate a part of himself to help others after he recovered from COVID-19.

Dr. Daniel Wakefield, a radiation oncology resident at the University of Tennessee, who works at West Cancer Center and Methodist University Hospital, was the first to donate convalescent plasma to a research partnership between Methodist Le Bonheur Healthcare and the Mayo Clinic.

Convalescent plasma is blood plasma collected from people who have recovered from COVID-19. Wakefield says donating the plasma was a very simple and relatively painless process. 

“To give a part of yourself to someone else and quite literally it’s sharing your strength with someone else,” Wakefield said.

The 30-year-old is talking about donating his convalescent plasma after he beat the coronavirus. Wakefield said he’s thankful he had very few symptoms.

“I had really just a new cough that was different than an allergy cough,” he said.

As a doctor, Wakefield knows the importance of medical research. He knew he had to do something to help. 

“Persons who have had COVID-19 have antibodies to COVID-19, which is little molecules your body makes to help fight off viruses and infections,” he said. “The idea is that essentially, when you have a body that was strong enough to fight it off, you take that plasma and you give it to a patient who hasn’t been strong enough.”

The doctor is proud to not just be helping on the front lines of medical care, but also providing information that could help change the course of history.

“I felt that it was important to participate in research to help potentially my patients, my community, but also anyone in the community benefit from knowledge so we can beat it before it starts,” he said.

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