Amid unprecedented hardship around the world triggered by the coronavirus, there is a beacon of hope in the medical sector in San Antonio. 

David Herrmann (B.B.A. ’88, J.D. ’90), CEO of Columbia Realty Limited, and a Board of Trustees member at St. Mary’s University, became the city’s first plasma donor in efforts to potentially ward off the physiological effects of COVID-19. 

As reported by the San Antonio Express-News, Herrmann, in March, visited his doctor in San Antonio after returning home from a family skiing trip in Colorado with a fever. 

After testing positive for COVID-19, Herrmann, though his fever never broke 100 degrees, took measures to isolate himself and rest. 

Once he recovered from the disease, “that same day I saw a report on the news about the plasma program and the local project with South Texas Blood and Tissue,” Herrmann said. 

Paul Basaldua (B.B.A ’02) donates plasma in San Antonio for COVID-19 relief efforts. Photo courtesy of Ron Nirenberg via Instagram (@ron_nirenberg).

“I reached out and they contacted me the next day,” he said. “They screened me and, once I was approved” — after testing negative twice for the virus — “I did my first donation a few days later.”

According to the Express-News, Herrmann’s recent plasma donation “kickstarted local efforts to treat the sickest COVID-19 patients with a therapy that has long been used for other diseases without treatment or cure.”

As of this writing, Herrmann has made four trips to donate plasma to those who are critically ill from the coronavirus.  

“I just felt like it was the right thing for me to do,” he said. 

Another St. Mary’s alumnus, Paul Basaldua (B.B.A. ’02), has joined donation efforts — catching the attention of San Antonio Mayor Ron Nirenberg. On social media, Nirenberg posted that Basaldua has donated five bags of plasma with more trips planned.

According to the Express-News, Elizabeth Waltman, chief operating officer for San Antonio’s blood bank, said the nonprofit shifted into high gear after the U.S. Food and Drug Administration recently lifted regulatory restrictions preventing blood centers from collecting and dispersing plasma to hospitals with coronavirus patients. 

“We kind of know that it works, but we don’t know what extent it’s going to work, don’t know if it works differently for different people,” Waltman told the Express-News. “But it’s what we’ve got. It’s the best we’ve got right now.”

Herrmann is proud to be the city’s first plasma donor, and believes his role in “instilling a sense of commitment for us to support our community” was something he valued learning at St. Mary’s University. 

“Many people are struggling with the virus, and I want to do my part,” he said.

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