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Cass Co. captain, undersheriff donate plasma to help others fight COVID-19

Both men battled virus for weeks but says it was ‘no-brainer’ to donate plasma to help other patients beat coronavirus
Posted at 8:36 PM, May 21, 2020

CASSOPOLIS, Mich. — In mid-March, Captain Thomas Jacobs told his fellow deputies in a meeting at the Cass County Sheriff’s Office that they should do what they can to protect themselves from contracting COVID-19.

“I told them, because most of the guys are younger than we are, I said ‘you know you guys will probably have mild symptoms if you contract this,’” Jacobs recalled. “I said ‘if I get it, I could die.’”

Days later, on March 19, Jacobs went home feeling some of the symptoms. That weekend, Jacobs felt ‘miserable,’ he said.

The following week, Jacobs tested positive for COVID-19 and he thought he was going to die.

“By the time I made my first day in the hospital, those were my thoughts,” Jacobs said to a group of journalists outside the sheriff’s office on Thursday. “I very likely couldn’t return to work. I might not return back home. I was scared.”

Jacobs, who’s also diabetic and suffers from Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease or COPD, spent the next 30 days dealing with body aches, pains, and flu-like symptoms.

However, he also recovered.

His doctor approved him to return to work on April 13. But the sheriff asked him to take one more test just to make sure he was negative. So he did in Grand Rapids and he was COVID-19 free.

“When I got back to work, the undersheriff also had been off work with COVID-19,” Jacobs said. “Unfortunately I think he got it from me.”

Undersheriff Clinton Roach said he went home the same day Jacobs did back in March. Later that month, he noticed he lost his sense of smell and taste after he ate some jalapeños and couldn’t enjoy the full flavor.

“Then I began to have the breathing issues also,” Roach said. “I opted to fight through it rather than go to the hospital. I didn’t want to be in a hospital. I dealt with that for about four days and took about two weeks to really recover from it.”

Roach said he was exhausted and ‘wiped out.’ He still doesn’t have the stamina to walk or run like he used to. However he returned to work around the same time Jacobs did.

When they returned, they heard from the health department, Roach said.

“We were notified by the health department that our plasma could be beneficial to other people that are struggling with it,” Roach said. “I had never donated blood before.”

However, he thought it was a good opportunity to give back and donate their plasma and antibodies to help others battling the virus build up their immune system, he said.

Jacobs agreed.

So, they did. Roach donated his plasma at Spectrum Lakeland in St. Joseph. He plans on going on again this weekend.

Jacobs donated in Kalamazoo. And, he too plans on donating again.

He said it feels good to serve the community in this way.

“If we can help somebody who’s on a ventilator or is having serious issues as I was, why wouldn’t you,” Jacobs said. “It’s just kind of a no-brainer for me.”