▶️ Bend family, doctors await results of experimental COVID treatment

By MATT McDONALD
CENTRAL OREGON DAILY NEWS DIRECTOR

Forced inside by the pandemic, Craig Ohlin of Bend was enjoying some downtime with his family.

“We got to spend a little more time, go out for a walk, take the dogs out and stuff.  We were having a good time,” said Ohlin.

He says his daughter Nicole got sick with COVID-19. His wife Lilliana, a medical assistant and massage therapist, started to care for her.

“Within three days, you know like, taking care of my daughter she got sick,” said Ohlin.

Nicole got better. Lilliana got worse. Ohlin said his wife’s downturn happened fast.

“Bam…like an accident, like a car accident, bam.”

Craig says Lilliana has been on a ventilator for nearly a week.

But today, the family has new hope. Plasma, taken from the blood of people who have survived COVID-19, is being used for the first time to treat Lilliana.

St. Charles signed up to be part of a project being run by the Mayo Clinic.

So far, just over 3,000 patients like Lilliana have been given plasma from patients who have survived COVID-19. More than 4,000 more are registered for the program but there is not enough plasma from survivors for everyone.

“The idea is that patients that have recovered have developed antibodies towards COVID-19,” said Dr. Anna Dolezal, the acting medical director of the St. Charles blood bank.

Dr. Dolezal admits, there is no guarantee the plasma will help fight the disease. But the history of plasma infusions dates back to the Spanish flu in 19-18 and it has worked.

“They’ve used it in multiple other viral infections since then, including Ebola, MERS and SARS and had a pretty good response,” said Dr. Doelza.

Ohlin hopes the plasma Lilliana received is enough to help save her life.

“It’s pretty early to tell but for what’s going on, she’s been making small steps ahead and you know the oxygen getting, levels getting better,” he said.

Like so many efforts in the fight against COVID-19, it’s too early to tell.

The family has also created a GoFundMe page to help with Locke’s medical bills. As of Thursday morning it has raised about $1,500 of its $70,000 goal.

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