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DC Fire & EMS: Surviving COVID-19, donating plasma

3 DC Fire & EMS members recovering from coronavirus share their stories about donating plasma as part of a MedStar treatment study

Three District of Columbia Fire & EMS members recovering from COVID-19 have chosen to donate plasma as part of a MedStar Health treatment study, and encourage other survivors to do the same.

Thanks to Lt. Richard “Sid” Polish, Assistant Chief John Donnelly and Firefighter/EMT Kim Shaw for sharing their stories.


  • “It’s a very scary disease to have because you understand what could happen. Until I started getting better, there was a lot of anxiety about what was going to happen, and you’re always looking for the next symptom. Is the trouble breathing going to start today?” -- Chief Donnelly
  • “I would start to feel better and then my symptoms would come back a little bit worse each time, so it was like a roller-coaster ride for about 2.5 to 3 weeks.” -- Lt. Polish
  • “The plasma donation is important because within our plasma are antibodies, and the antibodies are used to help people fight the disease who don’t have antibodies on their own, and that’s a really cool thing because the only people that have these are people who have survived COVID.” -- Chief Donnelly
  • “This is a very rewarding experience to be able to give back to those who were as sick as I was ... there are a lot of people out there who are very sick who I’m able to give back to.” -- Firefighter/EMT Shaw
  • “The plasma donation process was really easy. It’s not painful. It takes about an hour of your day. If that’s your fear, don’t let it be your fear. You can do this. If you’ve been through COVID, you can definitely donate. It’s way easier than surviving COVID.” -- Chief Donnelly
  • “When I became a firefighter almost 30 years ago, I wanted to help save lives and do good for my community, and this is just a natural extension of the job and my willingness to help other people, so I encourage any firefighter who tested positive for COVID-19 and healed to reach out and see what you can do about donating your plasma.” -- Lt. Polish

MedStar Health is seeking people who have tested positive for COVID-19 and are fully recovered to donate plasma for a treatment study. Email to learn more.

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