'We needed to give back,': Family survives COVID-19, donates plasma to help others

The family of six is healthy again and decided to help out a nonprofit blood bank collecting convalescent plasma from COVID-19 survivors.


A Nebraska family survived COVID-19. Now, they’re donating convalescent plasma in hopes others survive the virus, too.

For months, the Schatz family looked forward to visiting their son overseas.

"My son was studying abroad in Ireland and we’d scheduled this trip long ago knowing he was going to be doing this this spring semester,” Monte Schatz said.

That was March 5. At the time, Schatz said there were a few confirmed coronavirus cases on the island. When they left just 10 days later, it was a different story.

"There were a lot of students coming back at that time, returning from studying abroad. I suspect that's where maybe I contracted the virus,” Schatz said. “We flew through Heathrow and Chicago O’Hare.”

Two weeks later, he started feeling sick.

“My symptoms were a high fever, chills, and achiness,” Schatz said. “The achiness went away right away the fever took me a while to get to go away.”

He tested positive for COVID-19. Then his wife did. Then two of his children. The other two are presumptive positives, waiting for tests. That's six people in one house, in quarantine for weeks.

"Our household is a classic example of how this virus works. We had everything from people who have the fevers and the chills all the way to my one son that was diagnosed with it never really showed any symptoms,” Schatz said.

They’re all healthy again, Schatz said. So when he learned of a nonprofit blood bank collecting convalescent plasma from COVID-19 survivors, they jumped on board.

Doctors use the antibodies to treat patients who are still suffering from the virus.

“We found out about it and we really felt strongly we needed to give back,” Schatz said.

He donated through LifeServe and said it's similar to giving blood.

“It’s about an hour and a half process. And about approximately 40 minutes is time spent in the chair,” he said.

Schatz hopes more survivors will research it.

“I would just urge them to please go out there and do this. We know the way this thing is spreading. There's going to be a tremendous need for this. It’s quick. It’s simple. And it can help a lot of people,” he said.

Schatz said he doesn’t want people to fear the virus, but to be watchful for symptoms. He encourages everyone to take precautions like masks to protect others, to be thoughtful of others and yourself.

"The fact that I survived…extremely grateful and extremely humbled,” Schatz said. “And how lucky can you be to have, you know, potentially six members in a family that had all came out healthy,” Schatz said.