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GVSU health care student recovers from COVID-19, donating plasma

Hannah Grinwis said she is now donating plasma to pay it forward.

A Grand Valley State University graduate student has recovered from COVID-19, and now she is donating her plasma in order to help others survive the disease. 

Hannah Grinwis, 25, is in her second year of GVSU's physician assistant studies program. But her clinical rotations were canceled after the pandemic hit. 

Grinwis said it's hard to be studying health care during this time, and not be able to be putting her knowledge to work. 

"It's hard to be sidelined during this health care phenomenon," she said. "My classmates and I are passionate about caring for others, so it is hard not being able to help patients in a feasible way right now.”

After being out of the classroom for several week, Grinwis developed a dry cough and body aches in March while she was isolated at home with her husband in Kent City. 

This took a turn for the worse, and Grinwis' symptoms quickly became more severe. 

"I had a fever and pretty severe upper back and chest pain that worsened when breathing deeply," she said. "I also had a very severe headache, shortness of breath and fatigue. I lost my appetite and sense of smell and taste." 

The CDC recently added the loss of smell and taste to the list of COVID-19 symptoms. 

RELATED: 'Light it blue,' GVSU honors health care workers with illuminated stadium

Grinwis used telehealth to communicate with doctors and she tested positive for the virus at a Spectrum Health testing site in Grand Rapids. 

Grinwis said she has "no idea" how she got the virus. 

"We followed strict safety procedures during rotations and I had not been working with any patients who were possible COVID-19 patients," she said. 

Both Grinwis' husband and sister also developed symptoms but neither showed the severe signs of the virus. All of them were able to recover at home with guidance from the Kent County Health Department and Spectrum Health.

After she started feeling better, Grinwis wanted to find a way to give back. She decided to pay it forward by giving plasma. She received the all clear to donate in April, and she now gives plasma once a week. 

"It's important for me to give back to the community that has helped me," she said. "I grew up in West Michigan and I want to serve the people who helped me get to this point." 

Because of the pandemic there have been shortages of blood and plasma donations due to drives being canceled. There are new protocols in place for people donating blood to keep them and health care workers safe. 

In Michigan, the latest data shows that more than 8,000 people have recovered from the virus. Nearly 40,000 have tested positive. 

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