Steve Fisher first noticed something was wrong in late March.
“Steve started feeling kind of tired and just off his game and then developed a fever,” his wife Nancy Fisher said.
In a manner of days, Steve was in bed at home in Warroad, and his wife was looking for help. Nancy called Altru’s 24/7 COVID-19 Hotline because she knew he had a fever and aches. Eventually, Steve was taken to LifeCare Hospital Emergency Room in Roseau and then by ambulance to the hospital in Grand Forks.
“About a week after feeling sick there seemed to be a change,” Nancy said. “He was having trouble catching his breath.”
Steve tested positive for COVID-19. He was the only Roseau County resident to test positive at the time.
Convalescent Plasma Therapy
It was Steve’s son Jay who first read about Convalescent Plasma Therapy online.
“Jay found out that Mayo Clinic was doing a convalescent plasma trial,” Nancy said. “he and his family were doing a lot of calling around to learn more about it.”
Altru is one of several hospitals in the Mayo Clinic Care Network participating in trials of Convalescent Plasma Therapy.
“He talked to Doctor Sara Nausheen, and doctors in critical care, about how we could possibly get him some convalescent plasma and get him signed up for the trial,” Nancy said.
Steve received plasma from a patient in New York, who survived a COVID-19 infection.
Doctors are hoping plasma from someone who already beat the virus could boost overall immunity for patients.
It was a wait-and-see game for the family while Steve spent weeks on a ventilator.
“Those were some of the hardest days I’ve walked through in my life,” Nancy said. “But we have a really strong faith in God and we just knew that He was with us.”
Steve spent the next seven weeks in the hospital.
Community Comes Together
While the Fisher family prayed, their community did too.
“We knew a lot of praying people,” Nancy said. “I feel like there were thousands of people praying for Steve and our family. We had a real peace that God was with us.”
People in Warroad supplied the family groceries, meals and support while Steve battled COVID-19.
A Turning Point
After 18 days on a ventilator, Steve managed to breathe on his own and became more aware of what was happening.
“He started to respond to people, be able to say his name and started coming back to us,” Nancy said.
After weeks of uncertainty, things were finally looking up for the Fisher family.
“It was a huge relief,” Nancy said. “We were so grateful and so thankful. I don’t know all the research facts, obviously. But I feel like Convalescent Plasma Therapy made a big difference for Steve. I hope that it’ll be available for future people who are in-need of treatment for COVID-19.”
The Fisher Family is thankful to everyone on Steve’s care team.
“I just felt like they were so courageous and so compassionate,” Nancy said. “In their care for Steve, they communicated so well.”
His care team played songs for him, set up a phone so family could talk to him, and even played piano for Steve while he was unconscious.
“The care team at Altru was just ahead of the curve on all the treatments,” Nancy said. “They did such an amazing job in treating Steve for COVID.”
Welcome Home Steve
People in Warroad welcomed Steve back in a big way.
They put his picture on a billboard and threw him a parade.
“We were just absolutely overwhelmed,” Nancy said. “It was pretty unbelievable. People are so supportive in celebrating with us.”
Hopeful For the Future
Now that Steve is back home, he’s doing better.
“Pretty good,” Steve said. “Getting around and trying to put on weight. Doing physical therapy and taking naps. How bad can that be?”
Steve says he’s thankful for the life-saving care and treatment he received from Altru Health System.