San Antonio doctor who survived COVID-19 saving lives with his plasma

Dr. Aaron King among elite group of blood donors at the South Texas Blood and Tissue Center


SAN ANTONIO – The recent surge of coronavirus cases in Bexar County and across Texas is putting new demand on doctors.

Dr. Aaron King is among those doctors in demand. But not because he is treating patients with COVID-19, but because he is saving them in a unique way.

King is part of an elite group of donors at the South Texas Blood and Tissue Center who contracted the virus and can now donate plasma to treat infected patients in the next wave of the disease.

San Antonio couple undergoes different COVID-19 experiences, uses plasma to help others

The HEALTHTEXAS family physician thinks he got COVID-19 while on spring break with his family in Colorado, which turned out to be a hot spot for travelers in March.

“My youngest daughter, who is five, developed a cough while we were there. And by the time we had returned home, we had found out that they had shut down the ski resort," King said.

The entire family quarantined themselves at home immediately. But within a few days, King was sick with symptoms that were typical, but also atypical. After a week of feeling sick, the coronavirus impact took a new downturn with new and more severe symptoms.

“I felt a lot more body aches. I felt feverish, although actually I never had an actual fever and I had a strange kind of sensation in my chest. But no cough, no runny nose, none of the usual symptoms we’d associate with an upper respiratory tract infection,” he said.

King also had nausea and took three weeks to recover. Now he’s back at work and donating his plasma at the South Texas Blood and Tissue Center on a regular basis. The antibodies are helping treat dozens of critically ill coronavirus patients.

Plasma donor meets face-to-face with family he helped

“So (tomorrow) will be my sixth donation. You do the math on that. Probably about 30 people, hopefully,” King said.

King said those who recover from coronavirus only have a limited amount of time to produce enough antibodies to help other patients. He said there is a loyal group of recovered patients who are rolling up their sleeves and putting that liquid gold in the bank.

Plasma with COVID-19 antibodies can be frozen and used for up to six months, so donors like King are hoping to continue helping patients in the second wave of virus for quite some time.

About the Author:

Ursula Pari has been a staple of television news in Texas at KSAT 12 News since 1996 and a veteran of broadcast journalism for more than 30 years.