NASHUA, N.H. – At one point, Joseph Jozitis seemed almost certain to die of COVID-19. However, thanks to a new procedure he left Southern New Hampshire Medical Center (SNHMC) on Wednesday afternoon completely recovered.
Jozitis was admitted to the intensive care unit at SNHMC on April 3 and was placed on a ventilator almost immediately, but he did not start to recover until his physicians turned to a new treatment involving convalescent plasma.
SNHMC had just joined a nation-wide clinical trial with the Mayo Clinic to study the use of convalescent plasma, or a blood transfusion from someone who has already recovered from COVID-19.
The hospital has also used remdesivir for other patients, but Jozitis was the first to be treated with convalescent plasma, which experts believe can transfer anti-bodies resistant to the disease.
“It’s having that satisfaction knowing you turned over every rock that we could to treat this patient,” said Dr. Timothy Scherer, Chief Medical Officer at SNHMC.
Although the expected deluge of patients did not arrive at SNHMC due in large part to social distancing and stay-at-home measures that stopped the spread of the disease, Scherer warns that another spike could come at any time if safety measures are relaxed before the pandemic is fully extinguished.
However, Scherer adds that the hospital’s staff is slowly learning how to cope with the rigors of the pandemic, and the release of Jozitis only helps the staff’s morale.
“With (a patient) is in the intensive care unit, you can have someone in there for 45 days and in that case, it feels like it’s hard to see the progress and that can be disheartening,” he said. “So when you have someone who recovers from this and gets back to their families, get back to the things that they love, knowing that we did our best, that gives us energy.”
Jozitis was not available for comment during his departure from the hospital.