Editor’s note: The Virus Diaries is a series in which Mainers talk about how they are affected by the coronavirus outbreak.

Peter and Mary Ann Gordon are shown in their Portland home while recovering from COVID-19 in April. Last weekend, Mary Ann became one of the first Mainers to donate plasma with antibodies after recovering from the disease. Gregory Rec/Staff Photographer

Being thankful for health, and wanting to help out. Mary Ann Gordon has been there before.

So when she began reading about others afflicted with COVID-19 – including a search for survivors of the disease to donate plasma – Gordon was stirred to action.

Mary Ann and her husband, Peter Gordon, of Portland have recovered from COVID-19. They were the subject of a previous entry in The Virus Diaries.

“I know what it’s like to be on the other side of this (dealing with the virus), which is why I became a little maniacal about this,” Mary Ann said Tuesday.

“This” became a search for how and where to donate plasma.

”I felt I have to do this. I felt so fortunate that we were over it. We really didn’t have it that badly.”

Within the past week, both the U.S. Food and Drug Administration and the American Red Cross began posting requests for those fully recovered from COVID-19 to donate their plasma, because it contains antibodies that may help others fight the virus.

“I called around,” Mary Ann said. “I started a Google search and the Red Cross came up.”

Mary Ann awaited word of when the Red Cross would begin collecting plasma from those recovered from COVID-19. That day was Saturday.

“On the first day of the program, I drove her down to the donation center (in Portland),” Peter said, “and she ended up being the fifth person in Maine to donate.”

According to Mary Brant, communications manager for the Red Cross Northern New England Region, “the program is in the beginning stages. … Any individual who has fully recovered is encouraged (to donate).” Brant referred those interested to the website: redcrossblood.org/plasma4covid

It is not the first time Mary Ann Gordon wanted to help. Twelve years ago, Peter Gordon was recovering from leukemia, after receiving a bone marrow transplant.

“I had to go through a very rigorous three-month quarantine, once I was released from the hospital,” Peter said.

“During that time, Mary Ann went out to the local health fair and organized a bone marrow donor drive. I already received my donor, so it wasn’t for me.

“People told her that most people do donor drives to find a donor for their loved ones. … But she wanted to help, to give back to others.”

It was empathy that motivated Mary Ann Gordon.

“I remember those months, when we were desperately hoping someone would donate (and be a bone marrow match for Peter) … the anxiety we went through. Once Peter received his transplant, I just started organizing drives. I felt responsible after what we went through.”

Which brings us to the present, when Mary Ann read about the need for plasma with antibodies.

“It was déjà vu,” she said.

She researched how she could help, then donated plasma for the first time in her life, and is trying to get the word out to other potential donors. Peter cannot donate his plasma because of his battle with leukemia. He watches his wife promote a cause with the same determination she showed 12 years ago.

“She just instantly thought back to that (time) and thought it’s the least she can do.

“I’m really proud of her. Sometimes, she drives me drive crazy with how relentless she is, but it’s always for the good.”

Do you have a story to share about how you are affected by the coronavirus outbreak? Email us at [email protected]

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