COVID-19 survivor credits TN donor with saving her life

Coronavirus

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (WKRN) – COVID-19 gripped tight to Lisa Hardin. “I kept trying and trying to breathe, and I had a horrific cough. ​As hard as I tried, I could not get air in past my clavicles,” said Hardin.

Just two days after the diagnosis, her fever spiked to nearly 104.​ Family members rushed Hardin to the emergency room. ​”They told me I had bilateral pneumonia already. I was really quite stunned.”

A nurse herself, Hardin knew, she faced a battle for her life. But as her hospital stay dragged on, her fight faded. ​”I was feeling like I was wearing out and I couldn’t keep fighting on my own.”

At the time Hardin was hospitalized in early April, combating COVID-19 with convalescent plasma was a new treatment. ​Finding people that had recovered from the virus, donated, and matched in blood-type was limited. ​Doctors contacted regional resources The Blood Assurance and The Blood Connection to scour the database.

Medical staff begged Hardin to hold on. “Honestly,” Hardin admitted, “I didn’t know if I had 4 hours to wait.”​

Thankfully, she didn’t need to.

“On Easter Sunday, [the doctor] walked into my room and said, we have a donor for you! My heart just filled with hope.”

The perfect match was a donor from Tennessee, the home state of her husband Kevin.​

“I said Lord when you do a blessing you do it right,” Hardin said with a laugh, “you got me a Tennessee donor.”

Harriett Whitaker tested positive for coronavirus after her husband Brad contracted COVID-19 and isolated in their Chattanooga home. Harriett was asymptomatic.

A medical team drove the plasma across the state line to her South Carolina hospital room.​ “As it started to infuse, I could feel it working already in my body. ​I know that it saved my life,” said Hardin.

Hardin, now recovered and reunited with her husband and daughter, wrote a thank you note to the hospital staff and had one more request. ​

“I said I don’t know who my donor is. If I could ever have a chance to meet him or her it would mean the world to me.”

So the medical team set out to help Hardin one more time. ​

They introduced the two women through a virtual meeting where they shared virtually every emotion imaginable.

“What you did saved my life. I just know that it did,” said Hardin. “So glad I was able to help you,” replied Whitaker.

Lisa Hardin and Harriett Whitaker – both wives, mothers, survivors, and now, friends.

Stay with News 2 for continuing coverage of the COVID-19 Pandemic.

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