FORT WORTH, Texas - One of the first COVID-19 plasma donors in the state got to meet the man he helped.
Doctors said the recipient of that plasma made a dramatic turn for the better, thanks to the transfusion.
Two men who were once strangers are now like family.
Back in early April, Jose Martinez was critically after testing positive for COVID-19.
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He’s now getting the chance to talk to the man who helped save his life.
It seems only fitting that two men of faith, who were brought together by the coronavirus, should meet for the first time in the Chapel and Healing Garden at Texas Health Fort Worth.
Reverend Robert Pace, the rector at Trinity Episcopal in Fort Worth, tested positive for COVID-19 on February 27.
He's believed to be the first person in Tarrant County to contract the virus through community spread.
Once recovered, Pace was also one of the first people in the state to donate his plasma to help critically ill COVID-19 patients.
“I'm just so honored and overjoyed to meet Jose and see him standing here and meet his family,” Pace said.
Jose Martinez, who was in the ICU at Texas Health Fort Worth, was the recipient.
“Everything just came together at the right time, the right moment,” Martinez said.
At the time of the plasma therapy, 42-year-old Martinez had been in the hospital for 21 days. For 11 of those days, he was on a ventilator, and he wasn't getting any better.
His pulmonologist said the infusion from Rev. Pace's plasma was a game changer.
“I'd say that he's living proof that it made some difference. Did it make the difference? We'll never know,” Dr. John Burk said.
Once off the ventilator, nurses played an audio recording for Martinez, from his family, who couldn't visit him in person. It was messages of love and support
“I heard it and I started to understand what was happening because there was a lot of confusion at the time because I didn't know what was happening, where I was,” Martinez recalled.
After being discharged on April 10, Martinez is now slowly trying to get back into his routine.
He's receiving speech and physical therapy.
“It's a slow process and you just have to take it one day at a time,” Martinez said.
The Martinez family is forever grateful to Rev. Pace for his selfless act, and they gave him a statue of Michael, the archangel, before parting ways.
“You can save a life by just sitting down and giving your plasma,” Pace said.
Rev. Pace has another appointment on Friday to donate more plasma.
He's hoping there's other COVID-19 patients out there who he can help.
Martinez also wants to donate plasma, but he has to wait one year to donate since he was recipient of plasma.