Diaz-Balart survives COVID-19, donates plasma
Thursday, May 14, 2020
U.S. Rep. Mario
Diaz-Balart, R-Miami, was the first member of
Congress to test positive for COVID-19.
Patients like him who survive the virus develop antibodies in their blood plasma.
Doctors have been sharing survivors’ plasma with other patients who are fighting the virus, because it is believed to aid their immune systems.
To collect plasma, a needle is inserted into a donor’s arm and a tube delivers the blood to a machine, which separates red cells from the plasma.
After Diaz-Balart became well, on April 29 he donated his plasma toward the cause.
His wife Tia Diaz-Balart -- who did not contract the coronavirus but regularly donates her blood -- joined him at a OneBlood facility in Miami, his office said.
OneBlood also operates the Big Red Bus, mobile donation centers that can be seen around South Florida.
“I’ve been very fortunate,” Diaz-Balart said in a video produced by OneBlood. “I was able to go through this and defeat this without ending up in the hospital and without having major complications.”
He talked with Miami Mayor Francis Suarez, who also survived COVID-19 and donated his blood.
“Giving plasma, giving blood is such an easy thing to do,” Diaz-Balart said. “And yet it can make a huge difference to people out there who are really struggling with this very dangerous virus.”
As the congressman sat in a recliner and squeezed a rubber ball during the procedure, he said, “Literally right now they are doing the whole process of extracting the plasma from my blood and I don’t feel anything.”
He is shown in the photo above with Enrique Jauregui, a donor services supervisor at the
OneBlood Donor Center, at 8232 Mills Drive in Miami.
Diaz-Balart called the deaths from the pandemic “a horrific tragedy for the thousands and thousands of families who have lost loved ones, for those who are struggling through this.
“I ask anybody who has been as lucky as me, who has been able to beat the virus, come donate blood,” Diaz-Balart said. “Come donate your plasma. It could help save a life.”
Diaz-Balart’s District 25 includes Miami Lakes. Challengers in the fall election failed to qualify and Diaz-Balart will begin his 10th term in Congress in January.