COVID-19 patient who received convalescent plasma now recovering at home

(Photo provided by Dave Falkenburg)
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RENSSELAER, Ind. - Patients who have recovered from COVID-19 are being encouraged to donate their plasma, with the hope it contains antibodies that will help seriously-ill patients recover.

Now we're getting an idea of how that's playing out.

At IU Health, 43 patients have received the treatment.

10 have been discharged. 30 are still fighting at the hospital. 3 did not survive.

I talked with one of the first to head home, Dave Falkenburg in Rensselaer about his experience.

"I remember the doctor came in, tells me my condition was getting worse and they were wanting to try a plasma treatment, experimental plasma treatment trial," Falkenburg said. "I signed the papers."

Falkenburg doesn't remember all of his three weeks fighting COVID-19 in the ICU at Methodist Hospital, but he does remember improvement after receiving plasma through an IV, plasma donated by a patient who survived the virus.

"After that, each day got better. I mean, it was amazing the doctors were really astonished about how well I progressed after that," he said.

Falkenburg is one of 43 patients receiving the convalescent plasma at IU Health, and one of 10 now recovering at home.

"This patient was struggling for quite a long time with the ventilator and having one of our patients leaving the hospital after such a struggle," said Dr. Nicolas Barros. "It is very refreshing and encouraging."

Barros says Falkenburg's recovery is exceptional because he has transplanted kidney and high risk.

Between the two medical battles, Falkenburg says picking the most difficult is easy.

The hardest medical fight for me was the COVID-19 arm. I absolutely had no energy and couldn't breathe and (had_ no strength whatsoever, not even to be able to walk 20 feet. I'll be honest, I did think I will probably, I don't think I was going to recover at one point."

Now he's grateful for more time with his family, his three granddaughters, the joy of his life.

"I feel 100% better," he said.

He credits faith, his family and his medical team, and, of course, his dual donors.

"I feel good. Life's good, I'm glad to be alive," Falkenburg said.