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Following her recovery from the coronavirus, Carina Garza De Luna felt the need to give back to patients still struggling.
Garza De Luna, a resident of Mission, was diagnosed with COVID-19 on March 25. She was tested after her children were sick with an upper respiratory virus before coronavirus testing was available in the area.
“I decided to get tested, but I honestly thought I was going to come out negative, then I came out positive,” Garza De Luna said. “Everybody’s good [now].”
Garza De Luna said she and her husband Marco had attended a concert in Houston with Mission City Councilmember Beto Vela, who confirmed he tested positive for COVID-19 shortly after the virus hit the Valley. Her symptoms were mild, and included a sore throat, headaches and congestion that lasted less than one week.
She and her family self-isolated at home for two weeks. After her recovery, Garza De Luna was tested two more times, once by a blood draw and once via a nasal swab, and both results came back negative.
After reading an article in The Monitor asking recovered patients who may qualify for plasma donation to call DHR Health, Garza De Luna knew she may be a candidate.
Convalescent plasma donations from recovered COVID-19 patients contain antibodies to the coronavirus, which may provide passive immunity to some critically-ill patients according to the South Texas Blood and Tissue Center. Garza De Luna was the first in the Rio Grande Valley to donate with DHR Health.
“It was an easy decision for me,” Garza De Luna said. “I was fine, and it was my way of giving back.”
Garza De Luna had never donated plasma before, and said she felt emotional as it was happening.
“I had to kind of get it together before I took a picture,” Garza De Luna said. “It was very emotional, thinking I could help somebody that was critically ill and possibly save their lives – that something good could come out of contracting this horrible virus.”
While most patients have remained anonymous, Garza De Luna felt it was important to let people know she had recovered and donated to hopefully get the word out to others who may qualify. She posted a couple of pictures on Facebook, which garnered over 1,000 likes and 172 shares as of press time.
“I wanted to encourage others to donate,” Garza De Luna said. “There’s really no way to get the message out, so I wanted to use Facebook just to reach as many people as we could.”
With over 200 active cases of COVID-19 in Hidalgo County, Garza De Luna knows there is more potential for plasma donation out there.
“After my post I actually got a few messages from people that I didn’t know that had tested positive,” Garza De Luna said. “So hopefully it encourages them to go and donate.”
Those who may qualify as a donor of convalescent plasma can reach out to DHR Health and call (956) 215-3166 or (956) 342-4896.