The best news to come out of ESPN NBA broadcaster Doris Burke’s announcement on Friday that she had tested positive for COVID-19 was that she is recovering and working her way back to full health. As she’s getting back to 100 percent, Burke wants to use her experience fighting the virus to help those who are going through their own battles.
Using a cool bit of science that could represent a path toward recovery for patients hit hardest by COVID-19, the disease caused by the new coronavirus, Burke is interested by a process that would extract healthy antibodies from her blood and use them to treat others who have been infected. Those antibodies do the work in recovered patients’ immune systems to build up immunity after having COVID-19. The thought is that antibodies can be taken from the blood of recovered folks like Burke and given to patients in more dire situations.
The idea came to Burke indirectly from Dr. Anthony Fauci, the director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases. Her colleague, ESPN play-by-play man Ryan Ruocco, brought up a radio interview with Fauci on Bernard McGuirk’s morning drive show on WABC in New York, when he heard of her diagnosis.
“One of the things Dr. Fauci said and one other infectious disease doctor had said, basically, we believe you now have immunity,” Burke said on the Woj Pod. “So what I would like to know is, should I go donate blood or plasma so that if in some way this could help people, if it can help find some sort of vaccine. So that is on my docket to do, is to research and discover should I go donate blood or plasma in the hopes it can help somebody down the line.”
Doctors in New York, quickly becoming a coronavirus epicenter of its own, will soon begin testing treatment using antibodies from recovered patients’ blood on hospitalized people in the city, according to the New York Times. Anecdotal evidence of the procedure’s efficacy has come from China in recent weeks, but doctors and researchers will need to properly test it in a controlled environment to understand if and how it works as treatment. In the event this becomes a plausible path forward, it seems like Burke will do everything she can to be among those who lend a hand.