After near-death bout with COVID-19, Mercy patient who got plasma treatment is almost ready to go home

April – May, 2020

May 1, 2020

The first COVID-19 patient in the St. Louis region to receive convalescent plasma treatment got a surprise visit on Friday from his wife and three sons outside Mercy Hospital South in south St. Louis County, where he has been hospitalized for five weeks.

With his wife Robyn Hoffmann at his side and three sons nearby, Jim Hoffmann talks with news reporters on Friday outside of Mercy Hospital South in south St. Louis County after being reunited with his family. Hoffmann is recovering from a near-fatal bout with COVID-19. His turnaround came after he received an experimental convalescent plasma therapy.

Jim Hoffmann exchanged hugs with his family and expressed his gratitude to the plasma donor and the medical team who has cared for him during his long stay. He said he has little memory of most of that stay and his care providers, many of whom were on hand Friday to applaud as he was greeted by his family.

Hoffmann said he had no idea he was undergoing what his doctors called groundbreaking treatment.

"I've just been along for the ride," said the 61-year-old resident of south St. Louis County. "The people making history are those doctors over there and the gentleman who stepped up to make that plasma donation." A media spokesman for the hospital said he could not identify the plasma donor today.

Hoffmann said he would like to meet his donor. "I'm hoping that's something that can be arranged someday," said Hoffmann, who spoke from a wheelchair. He is still undergoing physical therapy at the hospital.

His wife, Robyn Hoffmann, said his doctors expect him to be released next week.

Dr. Laura Adam, the hospital's director of critical care, said convalescent plasma therapy treatments have been given to 14 of the patients with COVID-19 that the hospital has cared for. All but three have responded well.

Because the treatment is still experimental, Adam said there is no assurance that it caused the turnaround for Hoffmann. 

Dr. Sameer Rana called the treatment the "last card" for Hoffmann, who had been sedated and intubated for weeks and appeared to be near death. "We are very happy that Jim is getting to go home," Rana said.

Dr. Aamina Aktar, an infectious disease specialist and the hospital's chief medical officer, said the therapy is showing great promise. "Given all that we're seeing, this is the most effective treatment," she said. "If you asked me what I wanted, this would be it."


» Related CHW coverage of convalescent plasma treatment

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