Nogales man shares story of resilience after surviving COVID-19

COVID-19 survivor

TUCSON, Ariz. (KOLD News 13) - A Nogales man survived COVID-19 when all odds were against him, and now he has a message he hopes will make a difference.

“I don’t feel lucky, I feel blessed that I recovered like this,” Armando Tapia. “I could have been another statistic.”

Fifty-year-old Armando Tapia had many grim moments during his fight against COVID-19. His asthma made fighting the virus extremely difficult, and soon he had pneumonia.

“Things just started getting worse from there. My fever wouldn’t go down. 104.6 fever and my lungs failed,” he said.

He was transferred from Nogales to Tucson Medical Center and was immediately put on a ventilator. Tapia would remain in a coma for two months. Doctors gave him convalescent plasma as a final effort, but warned his wife and family he may not survive.

“She told the doctors to leave me 24 hours on the machine more,” Tapia said. “That’s when the infusion of the convalescent plasma started working and that saved my life.”

Miraculously, the plasma started healing him. A miracle that showed him just how precious life is.

“Stop and smell the roses, look at how beautiful the grass is going. Let’s not take life for granted because it is a privilege to be alive,” he said.

A privilege he hopes others will recognize, too, and take action to help stop the spread of the virus.

“It’s time to stay home so that the world can heal, so our city can heal and our people can heal, so that all these deaths can stop,” he said.

The Red Cross is in need of convalescent plasma donations from people who have fully recovered from COVID-19. The organization says it has seen a 250% increase in need since October.

Courtney Slanaker, the Executive Director of the Southern Arizona Chapter, said people can have their whole blood tested for antibodies if they haven’t had a positive COVID-19 diagnosis in the past. If antibodies are found, these individuals can be recruited for plasma donations.

She said a person can donate plasma on a weekly basis for up to 3 months. You can more information on how to donate, here.

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