Mendota Heights teen who recovered from COVID-19 donates convalescent plasma to help others

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A Mendota Heights teenager wanted to use his experience to help others during this pandemic, but first, he had a fear to overcome.

Seventeen-year-old Ethan Hiew has an aversion to needles and when he sees a syringe he knows what's coming.

"It's not like I completely hate them, but they are a bit uncomfortable," Ethan said.

But since he recovered from COVID-19 and was symptom-free, Ethan decided to donate his plasma.

"I just thought it might be good to help other people," said Ethan.

Over 6,500 recovered COVID-19 patients donate plasma

That's by giving others who are infected by the virus the same fighting chance.

Ethan's parents listened nearby as he talked about how the coronavirus ended up in their Minnesota home.

"My dad was working in Europe and when he came back he felt sick and we got him tested," he said.

Back in March, Ethan's father was among the first in the state to test positive. He self-quarantined and the family notified Ethan's high school, St. Thomas Academy, which closed the campus and continued classes online.

Ethan's father's health improved, but the teen started to notice something was off. Ethan's blood test came back positive, too.

"Other than the headache, I didn't have symptoms,"  Ethan told KSTP.

After enough time passed and doctors cleared him, Ethan, who is also an Eagle Scout, saw an opportunity.

Mayo Clinic studying use of plasma from recovered patients in fighting COVID-19

"One of the core values at St. Thomas Academy is service and same for my church; we do service, so I just thought I was put in the position for a reason."

At about the same time, the American Red Cross put out a call for donations.

"The demand right now for this convalescent plasma is greater than the supply … as this pandemic continues to go on with no end in sight," according to Sue Thesenga with the Red Cross. The plasma has antibodies in it that could help other patients fight the virus.

At the end of April, Ethan put his aversion to needles aside.

"It was actually not too terrible, you literally had to sit on a table, and then they drew my blood for an hour. I brought earbuds and listened to music the whole time … it was pretty relaxing," said Ethan.

Recovered COVID-19 patients running into roadblocks donating plasma

Thesenga said plasma donations are sent where needed.

"It gives the patient and their families hope," she said.

If you're interested in donating plasma to the American Red Cross, click here.