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. Click to open a larger version of the image. 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...

Future of Nursing: Telehealth, More Innovation and Maybe Some Robots

Article
5/13/2022
Second Lt. Nina Hoskins, 81st Surgical Operations Squadron operating room nurse, briefs Col. Debra Lovette, 81st Training Wing commander, and other base leadership on robotics surgery capabilities inside the robotics surgery clinic at the Keesler Medical Center June 16, 2017. (Photo: Kemberly Groue, U.S. Air Force)

The future of nursing is here due in part to changes brought by the COVID-19 pandemic.

Recommended Content:

Nursing in the Military Health System | Coronavirus

How One Military Nurse Persevered Through the COVID-19 Response

Article
5/5/2022
Air Force Capt. Courtney Ebeling, a medical-surgical nurse at Joint Base San Antonio-Randolph Family Health Clinic, Texas, was deployed to support the COVID-19 response in Afghanistan in 2021. They administered vaccinations to U.S. citizens, service members, and foreign military members as well as supported the preparation to withdraw from the country. (Photo: Courtesy of Air Force Capt. Courtney Ebeling)

Nurses across the Military Health System have played a vital role in providing routine patient care and meeting the needs of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Recommended Content:

Nurses Week Toolkit: United In Service, Rooted in Strength | Coronavirus | Nursing in the Military Health System

‘I Love the Intensity’ – One Nurse Recalls Three COVID-19 Deployments

Article
5/5/2022
In 2020, Air Force 1st Lt. Tiffany Parra, an ICU nurse at the 633rd Medical Group, on Joint Base Langley-Eustis, Virginia, was deployed to a North Dakota hospital to support a FEMA COVID-19 mission. In the photo, she trains on equipment used for critical patients in a North Dakota ICU. (Photo: Courtesy of Air Force 1st Lt. Tiffany Parra)

Nurses are unique, they follow a calling to care for others. Military nurses do that as well as serve their nation. For Nurses Week, the MHS highlights some of their own.

Recommended Content:

Nurses Week Toolkit: United In Service, Rooted in Strength | Nursing in the Military Health System | Coronavirus

Pandemic Spotlights the Vital Role of Military Lab Workers

Article
5/2/2022
U.S. Air Force Staff Sgt. Ashley Solomon, 18th Medical Support Squadron NCO in charge of microbiology, unloads blood samples from a centrifuge at Kadena Air Base, Japan, Jan. 31, 2019. (Photo: Tech. Sgt. Matthew B. Fredericks, U.S. Air Force)

MHS clinical labs produce results.

Recommended Content:

Coronavirus and the COVID-19 Vaccine | Coronavirus

Helping Your Child to Cope with Grief and Losses Related to COVID-19

Article
4/28/2022
Shirley Lanham Elementary School students perform Taiko drumming during a Month of the Military Child celebration aboard the Naval Air Facility Atsugi, Japan, April 6, 2022. (Photo: Petty Officer 2nd Class Ange-Olivier Clement, Naval Air Facility Atsugi)

Many military children have lost loved ones to COVID-19. How parents can help with the grief.

Recommended Content:

Month of the Military Child - Celebrating Military Kids | Children's Health | Psychological Fitness | Coronavirus and the COVID-19 Vaccine | Coronavirus

How to Help Military Children Reconnect After Two Years of the Pandemic

Article
4/25/2022
Airman 1st Class Rocio Romo, Space Launch Delta 30 public affairs specialist, and her son pose for a photo at Cocheo Park on Vandenberg Space Force Base, California, March 25, 2022. During the month of April, we celebrate Month of the Military Child to highlight the sacrifices military children make on the home front while their parents serve the United States. (Photo: Airman Kadielle Shaw, Space Launch Delta 30 Public Affairs)

How parents can help children stressed by more than two years of COVID-19.

Recommended Content:

Month of the Military Child - Celebrating Military Kids | Children's Health | Psychological Fitness | Coronavirus and the COVID-19 Vaccine | Coronavirus

COVID-19 Booster Effectiveness Remained High During Omicron Surge

Article
4/18/2022
Hospital Corpsman 1st Class Mary Ashcraft, assigned to the combat ship USS Tulsa, administers a COVID-19 vaccine booster to Aviation Machinist Mate 1st Class Anthony Johnson Jan. 10, 2022, at Apra Harbor, Guam. (Photo: Mass Communication Specialist Petty Officer 1st Class Devin M. Langer, Command Destroyer Squadron 7)

Two new studies of active-duty service members show COVID-19 booster vaccines are effective, but uptake rates in the military community lagged behind the civilian population.

Recommended Content:

Coronavirus and the COVID-19 Vaccine | Coronavirus | COVID-19 Vaccine Efforts

Got Your 6 | April 16, 2022

Video
4/15/2022
Got Your 6 | April 16, 2022

‘Got Your 6’ is TRICARE’s COVID vaccine video series that delivers important information and updates, on days that end in ‘6.’ It includes the latest information about DOD vaccine distribution, the TRICARE health benefit, and vaccine availability. Got a question about ‘Got Your 6’? Send an email to dha.ncr.comm.mbx.dha-internal-communications@mail.mil Find your local military provider at tricare.mil/MTF, or go to tricare.mil/vaccineappointments and schedule yours today!

Recommended Content:

Coronavirus and the COVID-19 Vaccine | Coronavirus | COVID-19 Vaccine Efforts

8 Tips to Help Kids Adjust to Change during the New Pandemic Phase

Article
4/15/2022
A parent comforts his child while she receives a pediatric dose of the COVID-19 vaccine at Kadena Air Base, Japan, Jan. 28, 2022. (Photo: Airman 1st Class Anna Nolte, 18th Wing Public Affairs)

Parents should prepare their kids for the new normal of the ongoing pandemic, recognizing that the status of the disease can change quickly as new variants of COVID-19 emerge.

Recommended Content:

Coronavirus and the COVID-19 Vaccine | Coronavirus | Children's Health

Military Medical Officials Back FY 23 Budget Before Senate Appropriations Committee

Article
4/6/2022
Marines with Marine Wing Headquarters Squadron, 3rd Marine Aircraft Wing take precautionary measures by cleaning and disinfecting their hands during field day on Marine Corps Air Station Miramar, Calif., March 20, 2020, to mitigate the spread of COVID-19 while continuing to perform mission-essential tasks. (Photo: Marine Corps Lance Cpl. Jaime Reyes)

Military Medical officials, including Army Lt. Gen. (Dr.) Ronald J. Place, Defense Health Agency director, back FY 23 Budget before the Senate Appropriations Committee, March 29, 2022.

Recommended Content:

Public Health | Coronavirus

How COVID-19 Made the Military Medical Community Stronger

Article
3/21/2022
Image of a service member being treated

Lessons learned from the COVID-19 pandemic has made the military medical community stronger and will help when confronting the next crisis, whether that’s another pandemic, a new conflict or natural disaster

Recommended Content:

Combat Support | Coronavirus and the COVID-19 Vaccine | Coronavirus

COVID-19 Responses Underscore Importance of Patient Safety

Article
3/14/2022
Every day, patient safety is one of the top priorities for the Defense Health Agency. Patient safety means providing ready, reliable care to service members, veterans, and dependents no matter the circumstances. (Photo: Defense Health Agency)

Patient safety is a topmost concern of MHS, and Patient Safety Awareness Week 2022 focuses on Ready, Reliable Care.

Recommended Content:

Patient Safety | Patient Safety Awareness Week | Coronavirus and the COVID-19 Vaccine | Coronavirus | Patient Safety Awareness Week

Answering Your Questions About COVID-19 Testing

Article
2/25/2022
Military personnel performing a COVID-19 Test

COVID-19 continues to spread, now as the Omicron variant. Getting vaccinated is the most effective way to protect you and your family from getting seriously ill, getting hospitalized, or dying. You should also make sure you’re up to date with your vaccines. Testing is another important step you can take to protect yourself and others.

Recommended Content:

Coronavirus and the COVID-19 Vaccine | Coronavirus | At-Home COVID-19 Tests

Defense Department Announces Distribution of COVID-19 Tests for Military Beneficiaries

Article
2/25/2022
A Soldier assigned to the Connecticut National Guard helps load a shipment of at-home COVID-19 testing kits into a truck at a regional distribution point in North Haven, Connecticut, Jan. 3, 2022. These kits were picked up by representatives from local towns and municipalities to be handed out to their communities.

The Department of Defense will offer at-home COVID-19 tests for military beneficiaries at military hospitals or clinics, on a supply available basis, in the coming weeks.

Recommended Content:

Coronavirus and the COVID-19 Vaccine | At-Home COVID-19 Tests | Coronavirus

Latasha Smith: Warrior against COVID-19

Article Around MHS
2/18/2022
Military personnel looking at a patient's cardiac rhythm

Air Force Tech. Sgt. Latasha Smith, an Airman assigned to the 86th Operational Medical Readiness Squadron, was celebrated as Airlifter of the Week, Jan. 27, 2022, after leading the assault against COVID-19 for over a year.

Recommended Content:

Coronavirus
<< < 1 2 3 4 5  ... > >> 
Showing results 1 - 15 Page 1 of 32

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.