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After 52 days, Louisiana Farm Bureau president still hospitalized with COVID-19

3 years 3 weeks 22 hours ago Friday, May 08 2020 May 8, 2020 May 08, 2020 10:30 PM May 08, 2020 in News
Source: WBRZ

BATON ROUGE - The long-time president of the Louisiana Farm Bureau has now been hospitalized for 52 days because of COVID-19.

Ronnie Anderson, who also serves on the LSU Board of Supervisors, has been on a ventilator since day one, but his family says that his condition has improved. 

Improvement comes after Ronnie received two convalescent plasma treatments at Baton Rouge General through a clinical trial in partnership with the Mayo Clinic, his family says.

Since he was born in 1948, Ronnie has lived at his family’s farm in Ethel. Almost 52 of those years have been spent with his wife Vivian.

But now, it’s been 52 long days since Ronnie has been hospitalized. He had to endure an extended battle against the coronavirus.

“He was there in the ICU and he was critical for quite a while,” Vivian said.

Those days inside Baton Rouge General turned into weeks, which has turned into almost two months.

“As it went on and dad stayed sick for so long, we read everything we possibly could get our hands on, as far as treatments and things. I started reading more about convalescent plasma treatment,” his son Ron said.

Dr. Michael Sanchez at BRG says Ronnie is among a handful of patients at different stages of the virus who have received the treatment that is still being studied.

“In Mr. Ronnie’s case we found that he was felt to be persistently viremic, had persistent positives on tests despite being in the hospital actually for several weeks at the time,” Sanchez said.

Doctors hoped that treating Ronnie with plasma, which contains the antibodies from recovered COVID patients, would help neutralize the virus inside his body. 

“Mr. Ronnie got the plasma. We know that in the next day or two he had significant improvement, he was much more awake. And he started being able to participate in physical therapy,” Sanchez said.

His family says they also saw a big difference in his physical appearance right away.

“He was able to do things, following that, that he had never been able to do prior to that. We just think it’s remarkable that he has done as well as he has after having the plasma,” Vivian said.

The plasma Ronnie received wasn’t just from a random, kind person who donated at a blood center. It came from his own son and wife, who also caught the virus, and saw their chance to help.

“It was great, actually, to finally be able to do something to try and help my dad get better. Because at that point, we were forty-some-odd days in, I guess. And it’s a pretty helpless feeling because you can’t see them, you can’t talk to them," Ron said.

Ron said any chance he could help his dad, he was quick to jump on it.

“And it was easy, it was an easy process,” Vivian added.

After two rounds of treatment, Ronnie was just moved this week from the ICU to the COVID recovery unit at BRG Mid City. 

“Given his condition today, there’s no reason not to believe that he will return to being the person he was prior to the virus if everything keeps going in that direction," Vivian said.

She continued, "He has a very long journey with rehab and he’s got to get stronger in order to even do more rehab but he’s on his way."

Doctors at BRG say they are still running clinical trials for convalescent plasma therapy to determine how effective the treatment is.

The Anderson family is encouraging anyone who can to donate plasma and potentially help a virus patient in the hospital.

Ronnie announced earlier this year that he would not be seeking reelection for his position at the Louisiana Farm Bureau.

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