Researcher with Ozarks background races to save lives

Published: May. 28, 2020 at 9:19 AM CDT
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There's a race underway to save lives in the battle against the coronavirus.

One of the studies looks at the plasma of COVID-19 survivors to see if it will make a difference. One of the researchers behind the Mayo Clinic study has deep Missouri connections. The plasma study that made national headlines sent hope coursing through the nation. It also carried a somewhat hidden Ozarks connection.

"It's a huge honor," Mayo Clinic Researcher Katelyn Bruno told us.

Bruno is one of the authors of the convalescent plasma study.

She's also the kid born at St. John's (now Mercy Hospital). The kid who lived in Success, Mo. The kid who visited Missouri each summer. She also returned frequently on Thanksgiving and Christmas after the family moved. She's also the woman who married in Ash Grove.

The relatives in the Ozarks are beaming with pride.

"I mean, they're proud of me and I couldn't be more proud to make them proud, I guess. The biggest thing we can do is make a difference for others," noted Bruno.

One of the people involved in the convalescent plasma study is Claudia Garcenot. And, she's a believer in the plasma. NBC featured the nurse recently in a story on the study. Garcenot had pneumonia in both lungs and agreed to be part of the study.

"I really wasn't a nurse at that moment. I was really a frightened, sick patient, who was worrying about surviving," Garcenot told NBC.

Claudia is one of 15-thousand in the study. While Katelyn is in the lab, pouring over the results from patients like Garcenot.

Katelyn is part of the group who first made sure the convalescent plasma is safe. Now, the researchers are trying to find out if it really works to save the sickest of the sick.

"We're hearing these stories. These amazing stories about how convalscent plasma is working. But, our team is still working on analyzing that data on a large scale," cautioned Bruno.

It's thought the stuff in the blood from people who've recovered from COVID-19, the antibodies, can help patients survive. The biggest hurdle now getting more plasma.

"If you've had COVID and you're willing to donate plasma, you can do that and that would be a huge help," pleaded Bruno.

Most of Katelyn's career focused on a rare disease. Now, she's involved in research on a much bigger scale and much more public scale.

"I'm a basic scientist. I work in a labratory. But, being able to make a difference for 15-thousand patients or make a difference across the country is just a huge honor," said Bruno. "To have something you're involved in have that kind of scale is just absolutely amazing."


if you want to check out the plasma donation website Katelyn mentioned.

We checked it out and locally you can donate at The Community Blood Center of the Ozarks and The American Red Cross for this study. But, you must have recovered from the virus for 14 days before donating plasma.