NASHVILLE, Tenn. (WKRN) – COVID-19 gripped tight to Lisa Hardin.
“I kept trying and trying to breathe, and I had a horrific cough. As hard as I tried, I could not get air in past my clavicles,” said Hardin.
Just two days after the diagnosis, her fever spiked to nearly 104. Family members rushed Hardin to the emergency room.
”They told me I had bilateral pneumonia already. I was really quite stunned,” she said.
A nurse herself, Hardin knew, she faced a battle for her life. But as her hospital stay dragged on, her fight faded. ”I was feeling like I was wearing out and I couldn’t keep fighting on my own.”
At the time Hardin was hospitalized in early April, combating COVID-19 with convalescent plasma was a new treatment.
Finding people that had recovered from the virus, donated, and matched in blood-type was limited. Doctors contacted regional resources The Blood Assurance and The Blood Connection to scour the database.
Medical staff begged Hardin to hold on. “Honestly,” Hardin admitted, “I didn’t know if I had 4 hours to wait.”
Thankfully, she didn’t need to.
“On Easter Sunday, [the doctor] walked into my room and said, we have a donor for you! My heart just filled with hope.”
The perfect match was a donor from Tennessee, the home state of her husband Kevin.
“I said Lord when you do a blessing you do it right,” Hardin said with a laugh, “you got me a Tennessee donor.”
Harriett Whitaker tested positive for coronavirus after her husband Brad contracted COVID-19 and isolated in their Chattanooga home. Harriett was asymptomatic.
A medical team drove the plasma across the state line to her South Carolina hospital room. “As it started to infuse, I could feel it working already in my body. I know that it saved my life,” said Hardin.
Hardin, now recovered and reunited with her husband and daughter, wrote a thank you note to the hospital staff and had one more request.
“I said I don’t know who my donor is. If I could ever have a chance to meet him or her it would mean the world to me.”
So the medical team set out to help Hardin one more time.
They introduced the two women through a virtual meeting where they shared virtually every emotion imaginable.
“What you did saved my life. I just know that it did,” said Hardin. “So glad I was able to help you,” replied Whitaker.
Lisa Hardin and Harriett Whitaker – both wives, mothers, survivors, and now, friends.