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York area COVID-19 survivor working to help others by donating plasma. York Dispatch

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A 28-year-old Manchester Township woman overcame COVID-19 and became a trailblazer as a blood plasma donor in York County.

Three weeks after first contracting COVID-19 in mid-March and six days after recovering from mild symptoms related to the coronavirus, Megan Hoard became the first former virus patient to donate plasma at a WellSpan Health facility.

Her plasma was used for convalescent treatment of COVID-19 patients after she made the donation May 1 at WellSpan Apple Hill Medical Center in York Township.

“I was one of the lucky ones because I recovered from COVID-19,” Hoard said. “Some people aren’t so lucky. I know how it is to lose a loved one, and I didn’t want that to happen just because of this crazy flu-like disease that’s going around.

“I want to give back in any way that I can.”

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Hoard said she drew inspiration from her late mother, who was a registered nurse.

“My mom, being a nurse, always made me donate blood,” she said. “She always made me give back to the community. When she passed, she was an organ donor, so she was able to give on even after life. 

“So I’ve always wanted to follow in her footsteps.”

As of Thursday, 37 patients had been treated with convalescent plasma at WellSpan’s various facilities, including York Hospital, officials said.

Donors such as Hoard are critical to the process.

“Our donors are very generous people who come out regularly to give what they have in order to help others,” said Dr. Michelle Erickson, medical director of the York Hospital Laboratory. “It is very inspiring to see people like Megan recover from the illness, then give back to their community. 

“It is my honor to witness this generosity and selflessness every single day.” 

Erickson said blood from people who have had the virus has antibodies that can help others who are very sick fight the disease. She said all would-be donors are screened to make sure they are healthy and no longer have symptoms related to the virus.

Hoard plays soccer for the Lancaster City Football Club, but the season was canceled this spring because of the coronavirus pandemic. She is currently furloughed from her full-time sales job and part-time bartender job.

She plans to donate blood plasma again but has to wait 60 days between donations.

“I’m eager and anxious to help,” Hoard said. “My plasma can help three COVID-19 patients.”

Hoard said she first contracted COVID-19 on March 14.

“I never had a fever, but I had body aches for a couple of hours one day,” she said. “What I was really worried about was my taste and smell. It was gone for over a week.”

Hoard said she emailed her doctor, who told her to go to WellSpan’s testing location at the York Expo Center. She was tested March 23 and received her results five days later.

“I was already back to 100% by the time my results came back,” Hoard said. “My taste and smell came back two days after I got tested. I feel very fortunate.”

— Ron Musselman can be reached at rmusselman@yorkdispatch.com or via Twitter at @ronmusselman8.

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