Notable Heroes in Health Care: David Lal

MD, MPH, pediatric surgeon, Children’s Wisconsin

Dr. Dave R. Lal tested positive for COVID-19 in early March, prior to COVID becoming a household word and the subsequent creation of travel restrictions.

As a pediatric surgeon at Children’s Wisconsin and professor of pediatric surgery at the Medical College of Wisconsin, Lal knew how important it was for him to quarantine.

It was during his time in quarantine that he read about the benefits of convalescent plasma for critically ill patients with COVID-19.

He reached out to Dr. Jerry Gottschall lab director of Versiti Blood Center of Wisconsin to see if there was a need for donors, and if he would qualify.

Lal was first in line to donate to Versiti Blood Center of Wisconsin’s convalescent plasma program, and a large part of the reason more people have donated. In total, Lal donated eight times until he reached the limit set by the FDA.

“I (had) a unique opportunity to help others,” he said. “Even in my own community, I know people who are really struggling and who are critically sick. If I can help any one of those people, it would give me so much joy.”

The convalescent plasma program uses special blood donations from recovered COVID-19 patients that is used to help patients who are critically ill with the infection. In theory, the antibodies Lal made could be used to fight the virus in someone whose own immune response was failing.

The now FDA-approved treatment offers hope to the thousands of patients who continue to be diagnosed with COVID-19. It is used by hospitals for the most severely affected patients. Lal didn’t stop there though. Through local media and social media, he encouraged others to donate as well.

Thanks in large part to Lal, his donation and his example, Versiti has received several dozen donations to its convalescent plasma program, which has helped countless people diagnosed with COVID-19.

Dr. Dave R. Lal donating to Versiti Blood Center of Wisconsin’s convalescent plasma program.

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