Harrison Co. man recovers from COVID-19 and donates plasma to help others sick

Published: Apr. 3, 2020 at 7:19 PM EDT
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This week we told you about how Baptist Health in Lexington used plasma donated from a COVID-19 survivor to treat two critically ill coronavirus patients.

That survivor, ironically is from Cynthiana in Harrison County, the first Kentucky community to report a case.

WKYT was given an exclusive interview to sit down with the man at the center of this experimental donation who willingly stepped up to try and save strangers.

When the news first hit that small town Cynthiana was ground zero for the state's first diagnosed COVID-19 case it hit close to home for 51-year-old Ray Young.

"The whole thing impacted our church really highly, we had several members of our church and our choir who were diagnosed and they were the first actually in Harrison Co." said Ray Young.

Because of his potential exposure with his church, Young was approached about being tested.

He felt fine, but on March 12 he tested positive for COVID-19.

"I was heartbroken thinking that I may have endangered somebody else, it was an emotional roller coaster for me really," said Young.

Quarantined at home with his wife and sons, Young was asymptomatic, he never had a fever or any signs of being sick except one thing.

"The only thing I did I think probably experience now that I look back on it, sense of smell was lost and a little bit maybe of taste," said Young.

Talking over video chat, Young told me he lost his father to cancer early in life, he said he would have given anything to be able to provide a cure for him.

This past weekend, a call from his hometown hospital, Harrison Memorial Hospital may have given him a chance to try and help someone else's family.

He was asked if he would be willing to donate his plasma.

Doctors at Baptist Health in Lexington wanted to use his antibodies that helped him fight off the virus to treat two critically ill COVID patients.

Young was tested again and it was negative, he says once he got the results he jumped at that chance.

"I just hope it helps somebody you know, we had a member of our church that lost his life to this and I knew if there was anything I could do to help out I was going to," said Young.

What Young did was experimental, no one knows if it will work, but it's a start and its hope.

"You know my hope is those folks that got that infusion that it helped them, that's the only thing I want is that they are going to be able to go home to their families, “said Young.

Ray Young is now back to work and he says his family has never had any symptoms.

This treatment is similar to ones used during the Spanish flu pandemic of 1918, and more recently the influenza A (H1N1) pandemic of 2009, and the Ebola virus outbreak of 2014. On March 24, the FDA facilitated the treatment under emergency investigational new drug application.

Baptist Health Lexington partnered with the Kentucky Blood Center to fast track this process over the weekend.

If you have tested positive for COVID-19 you may be contacted to see if you are willing to donate.

If you have recovered from COVID-19, and wish to donate, visit