In mid-March, Michael Evering, like so many people across the country, was worried about his older parents getting COVID-19.
"I did not want to bring anything, certainly to them," said Evering.
Evering's mom and dad both have underlying conditions. His dad is 70 and his mom is 69. In December of last year, his mother was diagnosed with leukemia. She had just started a second round of chemo and was doing well.
When Evering's mom developed a fever one night in March and had to be taken to the hospital, it was cause for concern.
"It was really unsettling," said Evering. "We knew it existed, but it did not seem real. Then all of a sudden it became very real. Because now, we were living it."
Evering's mom tested positive for COVID-19 at Westerly Hospital. Days later, Evering's dad also developed symptoms and was taken to the hospital. They were both placed on ventilators.
"I had a bit of a break-down, you know, in the front yard of their house," said Evering. "I just I am not prepared, as anyone could not be, to lose both parents."
While Evering's parents were fighting for their lives, Evering himself tested positive for COVID-19. His wife and children, who all live in Stonington, were presumed positive.
"You can't really go anywhere or do anything about it," said Evering. "It was very frightening."
He and his family were able to recover from home. Evering and his wife had to juggle quarantine while also trying to help the kids with distance learning and working to make sure Evering's parents' affairs were in order.
At the end of two weeks in the hospital, Evering's parents were still on ventilators. That is when Evering and his wife heard about plasma treatments on the news. After some research, Evering said that he asked doctors if his parents could be candidates.
"They were actually able to receive the recovered plasma from the New York blood bank," explained Evering.
According to Dr. Nicole Muscato, director of the blood bank at Westerly and Lawrence and Memorial hospitals, Evering's parents were the first two patients to receive plasma infusions to treat COVID-19 at Westerly Hospital.
All of the Yale New Haven Health hospitals are participating in a nationwide trial overseen by the Mayo Clinic to give convalescent plasma to treat COVID-19, according to a press release.
Muscato said that three patients at Westerly Hospital and one patient at Lawrence and Memorial Hospital have now received plasma from recovered COVID-19 patients. She said that it cannot be considered a cure, but it can offer hope.
"We have seen, in some patients, some promising results that it does have an effect and patients are getting off ventilators," said Muscato.
Patients, including Evering's dad. After receiving the treatment, he was able to be taken off the ventilator. According to Evering, he has shown incredible progress.
"The first time we got to talk to him, just to say 'hi' and just to have the kids say 'hi' was truly amazing," said Evering.
Doctors are not sure if the plasma treatment made the difference for Evering's father or if it was other drugs he received.
Evering's mom is still on the ventilator. Evering said that doctors are working to slowly ween her off the ventilator in hopes that she makes progress.
"My mom is still critically ill, certainly. To be able to have at least one parent to say is recovering was a big load off," said Evering.
He said that his father is asking about his mom constantly, still hopeful that they will be able to walk out of the hospital together.
If anyone is recovered from COVID-19 and interested in donating plasma, they should contact the American Red Cross of Connecticut.