College student from North Texas who recovered from COVID-19 donates plasma with antibodies

A college student from North Texas who spent a week in ICU and 40 days in quarantine recovering from COVID-19 has reached a major milestone – being able to donate plasma with coronavirus antibodies.

Shira Karp, 20, of Dallas became sick during a study abroad trip to Ireland and returned to the United States in March. She was tested positive for COVID-19 and spent time in an ICU before having to self-quarantine at her Florida school.

Karp, now back in North Texas, has endured a tough two months. But the ability to help others has her feeling like she can make a difference.

“[The doctor] told me he was super excited because I had the most antibodies ever,” Shira said.

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Her brother Max was by her side at the mobile blood unit providing moral support through the two-hour process of giving plasma.

“For the most part, she was ok, but there were a lot of times where she was not feeling very well

Despite some discomfort, Shira made it through. But her new immune status is questionable at best.

“They have no idea how long I am or would be immune, the said the antibodies could last two months in my system, two years or two days,” Shira said. “At first I was kind of like oh, this is cool, I’m immune. But now it’s like, oh crap now I kind of need to be on the safe side too. Also since I did have it before, that automatically makes my immune system weaker than everyone else’s.”

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Shira says despite having antibodies, she and her family will continue social distancing, staying away from restaurants and retail for now.

She takes comfort in knowing she made it to the other side of a terrible illness, and because of her, someone else will too.

“My brother asked and said, ‘Do you know where her plasma is going? Is there any way we could know?’ The nurse is like, ‘It’s already got a name on it. It’s being shipped out today to help a person.’ And me and him were like oh my gosh, that’s crazy, I’m literally hoping, hopefully, saving someone’s life today and that, that’s amazing,” Shira said.

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