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Doctors in Texas among the physicians using plasma from COVID-19 patients to help those critically ill

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FORT WORTH, Texas -- With COVID-19 hot spots flaring around the United States in places like New Orleans, Detroit and Southern California Wednesday, April 1, New York remained the hardest hit of them all, with bodies loaded onto refrigerated morgue trucks by gurney and forklift outside overwhelmed hospitals. Vice President Mike Pence compared the U.S. trajectory to that of Italy, warning the worst is yet to come. Experts warned that there could be 100,000 to 240,000 deaths in the U.S. even if social distancing guidelines are maintained. As of Wednesday, there were more than 4,000 dead from the outbreak.

In an effort to slow the spread, physicians in Texas are trying out possible life-saving measures.

Doctors at Texas Health Fort Worth are among the physicians across the country experimenting with plasma donation.

"We had a donor who had been test positive, had the illness and became test negative, so he became a potential donor, and then, he was a willing donor," said Dr. John Burk, pulmonologist.

Dr. Burk said a man who tested positive for COVID-19, who recovered, donated his blood plasma to a COVID-19 patient on a ventilator -- in critical condition at the hospital.

"In hopes it will increase their immunity, allowing them to recover from what can become a deadly, deadly, deadly illness," said Dr. Burk.

Indicators it's working would be if a patient's fever broke, X-rays improved, and they began breathing on their own. Dr. Burk said only time will tell.

"Because there is not any direct measurement to say, oh this works, it is rather, how his, how he clinically improves over the days ahead," said Dr. Burk.

With the number of critical cases climbing, Dr. Burk said there's a need for donors.

Parker County Justice of the Peace Kelvin Miles immediately stepped up.

"I'm feeling great now," said Mills after his COVID-19 diagnosis.

Judge Miles was cleared by his doctor after testing positive on March 23. On Tuesday, March 31, he donated his plasma at Carter BloodCare -- eager to help others suffering from the virus.

"Anything that I can do to help after going through this, and if I have a chance to help somebody, that's what I wanna do," said Miles. "They took me to a chair and set me down. It took about 45 minutes to do the process, but it was real simple."

Dr. Burk said he's hopeful other qualified donors will follow Miles' lead.

"We anticipate that there is going to be a lot more cases in Texas, just like there had been in other parts of the country, and our hope is that we will have enough qualified donors, that we can offer this to those whose physicians think it might be of help," said Dr. Burk.

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