Retired firefighter recovers from COVID-19, hopes to donate blood to virus research


WARWICK, R.I. (WPRI) ─ Retired firefighter Carl Pecchia has a long list of accomplishments in life, and he can now add one more to that list: he is a coronavirus survivor.

Pecchia, 57, began experiencing symptoms on March 30 after returning from a run. It started with a sore throat and progressed from there.

“You start with these severe headaches and you’re tired and you’re exhausted,” he said. “I lost my ability to taste and to smell and I didn’t feel like eating anyway, you get sick to your stomach.”

Pecchia tested positive for COVID-19 after visiting a testing site in East Greenwich. He said he spent several weeks recovering at home with the help of his wife Gail and is now eight days symptom-free.

After making a full recovery, he’s contacted the Rhode Island Red Cross to see about donating the plasma in his blood. He hopes that his donation will help researchers create a vaccine or treatment.

While New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo announced that he would launch anti-body testing for thousands this week, Gov. Gina Raimondo said Rhode Island is still a couple of weeks away from taking a similar approach.

“We are still in the thick of our traditional testing, the PCR testing, the testing with the equipment before we move into the anti body testing. We will get there,” Raimondo said.

When we do get there, Pecchia said he’ll be ready, and more than willing, to donate.

“If they’re having success with the plasma donations… then I would love, absolutely love, to help out in any way I can,” Pecchia said.

Pecchia will be symptom-free for two weeks, a requirement for donating blood, this upcoming weekend. He said he’ll reach out to the Rhode Island Red Cross then to see about the steps he has to take to donate his plasma.

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