Now, not only is Bannister off a ventilator, but another patient who was in critical condition, 61-year-old Andy Fei of Burlington County, is also recovering after getting a transfusion.
The pair of Virtua Voorhees Hospital patients are among the first people in the region to recuperate after undergoing the experimental procedure.
"That is just an amazing feeling to me, and it has really encouraged me," said Leuzzi. “I am eligible to donate again starting on the 29th. I’m trying to set up an appointment with the Red Cross so I can donate and potentially help more people too.”
She hasn’t had a chance to speak with Bannister yet, but she says she’s looking forward to it.
“It's so hard for me to understand that I basically saved her life,” Leuzzi added. “I'm still kind of coming to terms with it, as weird as that sounds. I still have to keep pinching myself.”
The medical community is still debating whether plasma transfusions are viable treatments for COVID-19 patients. The study is still in its beginning stages.
“We have several patients that we have enrolled in the study now, and we plan on giving them plasma this week,” said Virtua critical care Dr. Lukasz Polisiakiewicz. “The jury is still out, if you will. We are very happy, we are very encouraged, but unfortunately the hard data isn't back yet.”
Virtua critical care Dr. Eric Sztejman initially didn’t think their COVID-19 patients would survive.
“It may not be just the plasma — it may be the entire treatment protocol that they went through. But I'll take it,” he said.
National clinical trials are underway.