Last week, two New Jersey residents were the focus of much media attention for being among the first Americans to receive convalescent plasma therapy to combat advanced cases of COVID-19. Both saw significant improvements to their health after the new and unproven treatment at Virtua Voorhees Hospital. Now, these patients—Renee Bannister of Gloucester County and Andy Fei of Burlington County—have been discharged from the hospital to a rehabilitation center to complete their recovery.
To celebrate the occasion, the staff at Virtua Voorhees sent them off with music, cheering, and applause. In fact, employees at all five Virtua hospitals gather to applaud COVID-19 patients upon their discharge. The Beatles’ “Here Comes the Sun” and the theme from the movie Rocky are the most popular songs to underscore this emotional, triumphant moment at Virtua.
Renee Bannister was admitted to Virtua Voorhees on March 22, received plasma therapy on April 3—one day after the FDA approved the treatment—and was discharged on April 21. The 63-year-old teacher had been on a ventilator for 22 days. She looks forward to celebrating her birthday and wedding anniversary, both in May.
Andy Fei, 61, was admitted to Virtua Voorhees on March 29 and was on a ventilator for 15 days. The husband, father, and professional opera singer left the hospital on April 23.
Both patients received plasma from the same donor, Marisa Leuzzi of Downingtown, Pa. Marisa is the niece of Renee Bannister.