Starlight Theatre president donates plasma after recovering from COVID-19

Posted at 8:20 AM, May 18, 2020
and last updated 2020-05-18 10:19:19-04

KANSAS CITY, Mo. — As Starlight Theatre gets ready to open its doors again later this summer, the popular outdoor theater remains silent.

"We’re going to have to come up with a plan, which we’re developing now," Starlight President Richard Baker said.

They need a plan to keep the audience safe from contracting COVID-19, which Baker tested positive for two months ago.

"I contracted the virus way back in early March, what was supposed to be a 12-day vacation in Spain," he said.

A nearly two-week vacation that was supposed to be spent with his wife, turned into 26 days, being quarantined and isolated from her.

"We got about three or four days before it happened by after that," Baker said. "Because I was tested positive, I was actually required to stay in my hotel room 22 out of every 24 hours."

He later recovered. Baker said he saw stories of very ill patients and the Commuinty Blood Center and the American Red Cross urging recovered COVID-19 patients to donate convalescent plasma, a potential life saving therapy.

"We can’t make any efficacy claims for convalescent plasma. We hope it helps but until the well controlled clinical trials give us their results, we are in the let’s try it as a bridge therapy until we know more," VP and Medical director of Community Blood Center of Kansas City, Jed Gorlin said. "We know it takes about seven to 10 days after you acquire COVID to make antibodies against it, so if we can jump-start you fighting it off, it can at least make some intuitive sense."

Baker didn't hesitate to step in and help.

"If there’s any way the antibodies in my blood can help somebody else, I think that’s incredible," Baker said. "We're all in this together and if I can do a little bit to help, I’m all in."

He was the first to sign up at the Community Blood Center to donate convalescent plasma for COVID-19 patients.

"I got to hold the little sign and all that, but I’m just happy to do it," Baker said.

While Starlight's empty seating and closed doors are only temporary, Baker is hoping his donation will be a lifelong gift to someone in need of it.

"It really cost you nothing except an hour of your time and you get to potentially save somebody’s life," Baker said. "That’s pretty special if you ask me."

You can donate plasma weekly, up to four times, according to the Community Blood Center. One donation could save up to three patients.

So far, the Community Blood Center of Kansas City has had over 60 collections with roughly 10 donors coming in on a weekly basis.