Local couple has completely different COVID-19 recoveries; health expert explains why

El Paso News

EL PASO, Texas (KTSM)–It’s been five months since the pandemic first struck in El Paso. City/County data reports nearly 14,000 people have healed from the virus, but it hasn’t been easy for everyone.

Patty and Alan Russell recently recovered from COVID-19, but they both had a different road to recovery.

Dr. Armando Meza, an infectious disease expert with the Texas Tech University Health Sciences Center of El Paso explained the process can vary from person to person.

“A little respiratory problems for me, I don’t think Alan has any problems but I had it worse and it did affect my lungs,” Patty Russell said.

Patty said her lungs were inflamed for 60 days after she was recovered.

“For a long time afterwards I felt tired, short-winded, other symptoms I thought were from a respiratory infection,” Patty said.

Dr. Meza said although you’re considered recovered from the virus, you might still feel sick, especially for those who might’ve been hospitalized from the virus.

“It is expected that the damage you have in addition to COVID-19 infection will make recovery from weeks to months,” Meza said.

He said for statistical purposes, the definition of “recovered” means a patient no longer tests positive for the virus, most hospitals require two negative tests to make that determination.

Dr. Meza said the recovery process can be more challenging for those with underlying conditions like diabetes or heart complications.

“You have to wait until the lungs are fully recovered from inflammation before you could go back to normal activities,” Meza said.

He also said some people who are considered recovered can still end up dying from symptoms and complications they acquired from the virus.

“An example will be someone with severe heart problems who got COVID-19, who recovered from the infection but the damage from the heart was so severe that it will lead to this patient’s demise,” Meza said.

He said the symptoms that usually linger are the loss of sense of smell and taste for most patients.

As for the Russells, they donated their plasma containing antibodies for the virus and encourage others who’ve recovered to do the same.

“It’s a gift we have and we can give to help save somebody’s life,” Patty said, “so I don’t understand why so many people who are recovering aren’t donating.”

Donations can be made via Vitalant, which is one of the nation’s oldest and largest nonprofit community blood service providers.

More information and the donor questionnaire can be found at: http://learn.vitalant.org/convalescentplasma. Potential donors who have questions may call 866-CV-PLSMA (866-287-5762)

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