The study abroad experience that, ultimately, helped save a life
Rising senior donates plasma to critically ill student in Ohio
By Chris Horn, firstname.lastname@example.org, 803-777-3687
This past spring semester, Paige Fallon began a study abroad experience in Europe, which was cut short when she got sick with COVID-19 and ended up in quarantine back home in Ohio.
But the rising senior at the University of South Carolina made the most of her experience after recovering from the virus that has killed some 350,000 worldwide — she helped save a life. Fallon, a public relations major/political science minor, was one of five donors who gave plasma to a high school senior in Columbus who had contracted COVID-19 and was in critical condition in ICU.
“My mom learned about Nick Butler, and she said, ‘You’ve got to help this boy,’ ” Fallon says. “To be honest, I didn’t even know what plasma was — I’d never given blood before — but I got in touch with Nick’s doctors and found out I was a perfect match for donating.”
Plasma from people who have recovered from COVID-19 contains antibodies that often assist recovery in patients who are critically ill with the virus. The high school student who received Fallon’s plasma eventually recovered after 15 days in the hospital. Fallon’s own experience with the virus was manageable, she says: “It felt like the worst day of a cold for five days — which is horrible, don’t get me wrong, but it was a mild case in the sense that I was not hospitalized.”
If President Caslen asks us to do something that will improve the safety of other students, it’s our duty as students and peers and friends to participate in that.
Rising senior Paige Fallon
“When I was in Italy and thousands of people were dying, it really freaked me out. And when I returned to America in late March, everyone was saying, ‘It’s just like the flu,’ which, from personal experience, I know isn’t true. It’s deadly for some and not for others, but I think that people who haven’t had COVID-19 shouldn’t make blanket statements about it.”
Fallon has simple advice for students returning to campus in the fall: Wash your hands and wear a mask in the settings prescribed by the university.
“If President Caslen asks us to do something that will improve the safety of other students, it’s our duty as students and peers and friends to participate in that,” says Fallon, who plans to graduate next spring and attend law school in fall 2021. “We’re not wearing the mask for ourselves, we’re wearing it for others to be comfortable in a classroom setting and for others to not get sick. If you don’t want to wear the mask, take an online class.”
Fallon is looking forward to the day when international travel is safe again and is eager to begin her senior year. “People need to go into the fall knowing that the university is doing everything in its power to keep us safe. Let’s be hopeful, not fearful.”
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