A Long County Commissioner and his wife, who is an educator in Long County, donated their plasma to help others with COVID-19.
On Dec. 31, on a rainy and cold morning Commissioner Mike Riddle, 57 and his wife Gina, 54, stood outside the Biomat at 108 W Hendry St. in Hinesville, readying themselves to donate their plasma to help others with COVID-19.
Plasma is the liquid portion of your blood; it has many functions in the body including supplying critical proteins for blood clotting and immunity. People who have recovered from COVID 19 are believed to have antibodies that can fight off the virus. Those antibodies can be given to COVID 19 patients who are battling the disease.
Mike Riddle said he thinks he contracted COVID in July of 2020.
“I came home (on a) Sunday and I noticed I had a low grade fever,” he said. “So I informed my job about it. Within hours Gina started experiencing a fever as well. I had a little hacking cough, but I didn’t notice it too much because I always have a little cough.”
Gina said her symptoms were similar “I worked in the yard, I thought it was just allergies,” she said. “I had a scratchy throat and kind of a little cough. And then I started having a low grade fever within that night and then the body aches through the night were just terrible. So we pretty much had an idea then.”
That following Monday they took a drive thru test and their results came back positive. “Within days the taste and smell were gone,” Gina said. “I had a lot of gastrointestinal problems. I was very sick to my stomach. As a matter of fact, this lingered with me for about two weeks. And I lost 10 pounds from being sick. Mike was probably over it in about 4 days and he was better.”
When asked if they knew how they became exposed to the virus they both said they had no idea.
When the Riddles caught COVID the only treatment available was to simply get through it. So both of them took Ibuprofen, ate soup and drank Gatorade.
During the quarantine the Riddles mostly felt concerned about their family. The quarantine was especially hard on Gina. “After a period of not feeling better, for me, it really started weighing on me,” she said. “I started feeling depressed; I was just tired of feeling bad. I didn’t know when I was going to get better or if things would get worse. Or if I should go to the hospital. We didn’t have any breathing problems. We’re very grateful for that. I was ready to get better again and it kind of drug out a little. I thought I needed to contact my doctor to let her know what was going on.”
But now the experience is behind them and they’re ready to give back. “The biggest reason why we’re trying to do this is that we know that these plasma platelets are doing a lot in regards to helping people who have COVID<” Mike Riddle said.
“We signed up in August to give our blood, we had already been approved, but I’ve had some health issues where I couldn’t do it right then. But, the other day we saw something on Gina’s Facebook and we read something about it and I said to Gina ``you know we really need to get down there, you want to do it’’?”
The Riddles both know someone who received the treatment. “There was a friend of ours in Long County, he was in the hospital with it and he was very, very sick and they were giving him the platelets,” Mike said. “That was part of his treatment process and, thankfully, he was able to recover from it.”
Bringing awareness to this cause and helping others recover are the main reasons the couple is donating back to the community.
“That’s what we’re hoping to do by giving our blood because we did survive COVID 19,” the couple said. “So we want to give other people a chance to fight and survive it as well. But we want to encourage other people if you’ve had COVID it doesn’t take much of anything to come on down and let them take your plasma and then you help someone else.
The couple warned not to live fearfully, but to do what you can instead. “My biggest thing is that I don’t think that we need to be living in fear,” they said. “COVID is a terrible thing. But in reality don’t be so fearful of it that it shuts you down completely. They’re getting a lot of good treatments out there. This is just one of the ways to help treat it by people who’ve had COVID 19. Everybody needs to do their part. It’s a simple thing that doesn’t take long to do.”