Back to Top Skip to main content Skip to sub-navigation

DOD COVID-19 Survivor Gives Shoutout to Doctors, Plasma Donors

Image of soldier sitting on a bench with flowers and a balloon Air Force veteran Patrick Bright

Recommended Content:

Coronavirus

Air Force veteran Patrick Bright, 55, a police officer with the Pentagon Force Protection Agency, nearly died from COVID-19. Then he received a new treatment.

Bright was hospitalized at MedStar Southern Maryland Hospital on March 23. His health quickly deteriorated, and four days later he was flown to MedStar Georgetown University Hospital.

He also contracted double pneumonia and was placed on a ventilator. Bright said the doctor told his wife, Pamela, that he was the sickest patient in the hospital and that he likely had no more than three days to live.

Then an experimental treatment was approved for use. On his fifth day on the ventilator, Bright received convalescent plasma from Dr. Lambros Stamatakis, a physician at both MedStar Georgetown University Hospital and MedStar Washington Hospital Center, himself a COVID-19 survivor.

A spokesperson at MedStar Georgetown said Bright was the first person in the District of Columbia to receive convalescent plasma.

''On the eighth day on the ventilator, things started looking up,'' Bright said. ''My vitals and everything started improving.''

On May 15, after nine days on the ventilator and nearly two months after first being hospitalized, he was discharged and is now recovering at his home in Clinton, Maryland.

Pamela also contracted COVID-19, but she was not hospitalized and has fully recovered.

Dr. Colleen W. Gilstad, medical director with Transfusion Service at MedStar Georgetown, said while there is no proven treatment for this virus, researchers are optimistic that the antibodies in convalescent plasma can lead to more positive outcomes.

Anecdotal evidence suggests that a patient's ability to recover is due, in part, to the existence of antibodies in the blood that are capable of fighting viruses that cause illness, Gilstad said. While the use of convalescent plasma for COVID-19 was only recently approved by the Food and Drug Administration for clinical trials and expanded clinical use, it has been successful in the past for treating diseases such as hepatitis B, influenza and Ebola.

Bright said that while he was in the hospital and his health was improving, he and his family communicated via video. ''We cried, we laughed, we were so happy,'' he said. ''It was one of the best moments of my life. It makes you appreciate life so much better. So many people had prayed for me.''

One of the first things Bright said he'll do when he gets completely well is thank Stamatakis and other doctors at both hospitals who treated him so well. When he left MedStar Georgetown, he noted, the doctors and nurses saluted and clapped.

The trip home was an amazing experience too, he said. Pentagon police officers lined the road, saluting his return. A news helicopter flew overhead, and reporters were camped out on my lawn, he recalled.

Bright said he’ll be happy to return to the Pentagon. He said he took the job because he loves helping people. ''I'm a people person, and I treat everyone with respect,”'' he added.

Bright urges people to donate plasma, noting that Pamela already has. He also encourages everyone to stay safe, wash their hands, wear a face mask and practice social distancing.

How the Treatment Works

When a person contracts SARS-CoV-2, the virus that causes COVID-19, their immune systems create antibodies to fight the virus.

These antibodies are found in the plasma, the liquid part of blood, explained Army Col. Audra Taylor, a division chief with the Armed Services Blood Program.

Plasma with infection-fighting antibodies is called convalescent plasma, she said. Through the blood donation process, this plasma is collected from a donor who has recovered from COVID-19 and transfused into a sick patient who is still fighting the virus. This may boost the immune system of the patient and help with the recovery process, Taylor said.

The collection process for this type of plasma is the same as standard plasma collection, she noted. It is being investigated for the treatment of COVID-19 because there is no approved treatment for the disease at this time, and there is some indication that  it might help some patients recover from COVID-19.

Several COVID-19 patients in the Military Health System have received convalescent plasma transfusions as part of their treatment, Taylor said. The treatment, which must be carried out under and approved protocol, is used for those hospitalized and severely ill with the disease.

How to Donate Convalescent Plasma

Those fully recovered from COVID-19 are the only ones who qualify to be a COVID-19 convalescent plasma donor, Taylor said. DOD personnel and their families are welcome to donate, as are non-DOD civilians with access to testing facilities on installations.

Donors require evidence of a COVID-19-positive test documented by a laboratory test, Taylor said, as well as complete resolution of symptoms at least 14 days before the donation. Also, donors need to be at least 17 years old, weigh at least 110 pounds and be in good health. Women who have ever been pregnant may require additional testing if human leukocyte antigen antibodies were developed since their last pregnancy.

The process of donating convalescent plasma is the same as a standard plasma donation, she explained. The first step is to contact the local Armed Services Blood Program donor center to obtain information and determine eligibility to donate. Once eligibility is determined, an appointment will be made for the donation and instructions for the process will be given. The donor will also be reminded to bring the required documentation needed specifically for this type of donation. 

Patients receiving treatment in DOD military treatment facilities receive priority for the Armed Services Blood Program convalescent plasma donations, Taylor said. However, the ASBP will continue to work closely with industry partners to support patients receiving care at the Department of Veterans Affairs and in civilian hospitals.

Taylor also noted that plasma and other blood donations in general are still needed and welcomed for other treatments that are not COVID-19 related.

''Our goal as a lifesaving program is to always provide a safe and ample supply of blood products,'' she said. ''The need is now. We are calling for all who are healthy, able and eligible, to donate today to help us all stand mission ready and save lives.''

Disclaimer: Re-published content may be edited for length and clarity.  Read original post.


ASBP Centers Collecting Convalescent Plasma

— Armed Services Blood Bank Center, Walter Reed National Military Medical Center, Bethesda, Maryland

— Naval Medical Center Portsmouth Blood Donor Center, Portsmouth, Virginia

— Fort Bragg Blood Donor Center, Fort Bragg, North Carolina

— Kendrick Memorial Blood Center, Fort Gordon, Georgia

— Sullivan Memorial Blood Center, Fort Benning, Georgia

— Blood Donor Center, Keesler Air Force Base, Mississippi

— Lackland Air Force Base Armed Services Blood Bank Center, Joint Base San Antonio-Lackland, Texas

— Robertson Blood Center, Fort Hood, Texas

— Akeroyd Blood Donor Center, Fort Sam Houston, Texas

— Fort Bliss Blood Donor Center, Fort Bliss, Texas

— Naval Medical Center San Diego Blood Donor Center, San Diego, California

— Armed Services Blood Bank Center – Pacific Northwest, Joint Base Lewis-McChord, Washington

— Tripler AMC Blood Donor Center, Tripler Army Medical Center, Hawaii

— Naval Hospital Blood Donor Center, Guam

— Armed Services Blood Bank Center Europe, Landstuhl Regional Medical Center, Germany

Links to More Information

Armed Services Blood Program

ASBP COVID-19-specific page

Blood Drive and Donor Registration

— Facebook: militaryblood 

— Twitter: @militaryblood 

— Instagram: @usmilitaryblood

You also may be interested in...

More Than 95% of Active Duty Have Received COVID-19 Vaccine

Article
10/15/2021
Female hospital corpsman gives a COVID-19 vaccine injection to a sailor in her left arm

Service members continue to line up for COVID-19 vaccinations.

Recommended Content:

COVID-19 Vaccine Efforts | Coronavirus | COVID-19 Information for Military Treatment Facility Directors

Mask Mouth Does Not Exist, Dentists Say

Article
10/6/2021
A bunch of children wearing face masks walk on a city street.

Mask mouth doesn’t exist, Internet chatter to the contrary, dentists say.

Recommended Content:

COVID-19 Vaccine Toolkit | Coronavirus

COVID-19 Booster Shots are Now Available – What You Need to Know

Article
9/30/2021
Containers of the Pfizer COVID-19 vaccine. Each vial contains six doses for vaccination against the COVID-19 virus.

Booster shots are now recommended for millions of people – but many others will have to wait for additional approvals.

Recommended Content:

COVID-19 Vaccine Toolkit | Coronavirus | COVID-19 Vaccine Efforts

Myths & facts about the vax - debunking common COVID-19 vaccine myths

Article
9/29/2021
Myths and facts about the vax

The COVID-19 vaccine has been mandated across the Department of Defense and despite its demonstrated effectiveness and safety, a host of myths have left some Airmen and Guardians hesitant to receive it. While social media posts and some news outlets may make it harder to keep up with what is fact or fiction, the science is clear … approved COVID-19 vaccines work.

Recommended Content:

COVID-19 Vaccine Toolkit | Coronavirus | COVID-19 Vaccine Efforts

DODEA Schools Keeps On With In-Person Classes, and Fall Sports, Too

Article
9/23/2021
Kids playing football

DODEA schools are striving to continue in-person learning in the 2021-22 school year.

Recommended Content:

Children's Health | Coronavirus

The COVID-19 Pandemic: How Health Care Workers are Coping

Article
9/13/2021
a nurse helping a COVID-19 patient

For health care providers, experiencing the pandemic inside a hospital has brought

Recommended Content:

Coronavirus | Military Health Podcasts

Increased COVID Restrictions on the Pentagon Reservation

Article
9/8/2021
Military personnel wearing a face mask

Due to the increase in COVID-19 cases and positive test cases in the National Capital Region, the Pentagon Reservation will move to Health Protection Condition Bravo Plus (Bravo+)

Recommended Content:

COVID-19 Vaccine Toolkit | Coronavirus

As Fitness Tests Resume, Troops Seek Post-COVID Exercise Routines

Article
8/31/2021
Military personnel physically training

Keeping fit during pandemic proves hard for some.

Recommended Content:

Total Body Preventive Health and Total Force Fitness | Total Force Fitness | Physical Fitness | Coronavirus

Digital health innovation emerges during COVID-19 pandemic

Article
8/31/2021
The Defense Health Agency’s Connected Health Branch was there to support, advise and deliver new health innovations throughout the pandemic. (Graphic courtesy of DHA Connected Health)

The DHA's Connected Health Branch was there to support, advise, and deliver new health innovations throughout the pandemic.

Recommended Content:

Connected Health | Coronavirus

Secretary of Defense Mandates COVID-19 Vaccinations for Service Members

Article
8/26/2021
An Army medic administers the COVID-19 vaccine to another soldier.

Secretary of Defense Lloyd J. Austin III yesterday issued a memorandum directing mandatory COVID-19 vaccinations for service members.

Recommended Content:

COVID-19 Vaccine Toolkit | Coronavirus | COVID-19 Vaccine Efforts

DOD Intends to Mandate Pfizer Vaccine, Pentagon Official Says

Article
8/25/2021
Pentagon Press Secretary John F. Kirby holds a press briefing, at the Pentagon, Washington, D.C.

Kirby said the health of DOD's military and civilian employees, families and communities is a top priority.

Recommended Content:

Coronavirus | COVID-19 Vaccine Efforts

Maintaining Mission Readiness During a Pandemic

Article
8/24/2021
Gen. Place presents at HIMSS in Las Vegas.

DHA Director Army Lt. Gen. (Dr.) Ronald Place discussed the national security implications of the COVID-19 outbreak.

Recommended Content:

Coronavirus | Heroes Behind the Mask | Deployment Health

Reform, COVID-19 Have Been Catalysts for Change in Military Medicine

Article
8/16/2021
Dr. Terry Adirim speaking to an audience at a conference

Healthcare is about taking care of people, so no amount of change or innovation is ever sufficient if modernization does not lead to helping patients, says acting ASDHA at HIMSS21 in Las Vegas.

Recommended Content:

Coronavirus | COVID-19 Vaccine Toolkit | Military Health System Transformation

Don't Hesitate: Vaccinate Today for School

Article
8/13/2021
A boy gets the COVID-19 vaccine

Back to School Means Vaccine Time

Recommended Content:

COVID-19 Vaccine Efforts | Coronavirus | Immunization Healthcare | Vaccine-Preventable Diseases | Vaccine Recommendations | Children's Health | Immunizations | TRICARE Health Program

Services Will Make Call on Religious Exemptions to COVID-19 Vaccines

Article
8/13/2021
Two medical people prepare syringes with doses of the COVID-19 vaccine

"There is a religious exemption possibility for any mandatory vaccine, and there's a process that we go through to counsel the individual both from a medical and from a command perspective about using a religious exemption," Kirby said.

Recommended Content:

Public Health | Coronavirus | COVID-19 Vaccine Efforts
<< < 1 2 3 4 5  ... > >> 
Showing results 1 - 15 Page 1 of 26

DHA Address: 7700 Arlington Boulevard | Suite 5101 | Falls Church, VA | 22042-5101

Some documents are presented in Portable Document Format (PDF). A PDF reader is required for viewing. Download a PDF Reader or learn more about PDFs.