Health News

This story is part of i">>AL.com’s series “21 Alabamians who made a difference in 2021,” highlighting people who have made our state a better place to live this year. Stories in this series will publish each day from Dec. 5 to Dec. 31. Find all stories i">>in the series as they publish here, and read about the Alabamians who made a difference in 2020 i">>by clicking here.

Montgomery-based pulmonologist Dr. David Thrasher saw the potential for monoclonal antibody treatment early in the pandemic.

When the first known COVID-19 patients were hospitalized in Alabama, several were transferred to Thrasher’s care. One 87-year-old male patient appeared to be on the verge of death. Thrasher offered the man a monoclonal antibody infusion, at the time a COVID-19 treatment with many unknowns.

“He had not been out of bed for three days. He looked like he could roll over and die. I said, ‘oh my God, I’m going to give the first dose of this thing, and I’m going to kill this guy,” said Thrasher.

Days later, Dr. Thrasher called the man’s wife to check on him.

“She said, ‘Yeah, he’s outside cutting wood’, and I said, ‘Whoa,’ so that got my attention big time.”

The treatment, which Thrasher has heralded as the ‘answer’ to the state’s COVID-19 hospitalizations, is given as both an infusion and an injection. It is a synthetic protein that helps the body build immunity to COVID-19 and is highly effective at preventing death from COVID-19.

Since 2020, Dr. Thrasher has worked tirelessly with public health officials, politicians, and doctors to bring monoclonal antibodies across Alabama, saving thousands of lives during the pandemic and helping prevent a worse crisis for Alabama’s hospitals, already overwhelmed during the recent Delta surge.

“As I told people many times, ‘call me, call me at night. text me,’” he said. “‘Don’t wait until you collapse. Don’t try to tough it out. That’s how you die,’” he said.

Thanks in part to Thrasher’s advocacy and expertise, the state has established a network of monoclonal antibody infusion centers and has armed rural doctors with antibody injection supplies, resulting in over 105,000 monoclonal antibody treatments statewide, according to Thrasher.

Thrasher received honors from Gov. Kay Ivey and Auburn University for his leadership role. Beyond educating Alabamians about monoclonal antibodies and the dangers of steroid treatments during certain times in the course of the disease. During the pandemic, he volunteered to raise money for PPE and meals for hospital workers, and advised cities, businesses, and schools on the dangers of COVID-19.

“It has brought out the best in people, the (healthcare) workers, the nurses, respiratory therapists, work so hard,” he said. “I can’t brag on them enough.”

A global pandemic like COVID-19 is a scenario health professionals like Thrasher have feared for decades. In early 2020, Thrasher was planning to retire. Now he feels he cannot “leave a hole in the state” during COVID.

“We all had to learn about this new disease very rapidly,” he said.

“It was a very scary time. we didn’t know how it was transmitted, and we didn’t have the equipment to protect ourselves.”

Thrasher said he has personally given about 3,000 monoclonal antibody treatments.

“If we had not had the monoclonal antibodies, it would have been a catastrophe for Alabama and the nation,” he said.

To fight viral misinformation about COVID-19, Thrasher has taken to social media for the first time in his life. His posts have had thousands of shares and hundreds of people have reached out for help in response.

“I get texts, I get emails. On Facebook. I say, ‘I cannot give medical advice,’” he said. “Still people will message me, ‘my son’s dying, my mother’s got COVID. I don’t know what do,’ and I go ahead, I’ll call them,” said Thrasher.

Thrasher has given his cell number to hundreds of people around the country, despite his wife’s protestations that he rest. At one point in the pandemic, he was calling 100 people a day to answer their questions from whether to get the vaccine, to whether COVID could be spread by dogs, to how to save the life of a loved one.

“I couldn’t look myself in the mirror if I walked away and left people dying.”

Source : https://www.al.com/news/2021/12/alabama-doctor-on-treating-covid-19-i-couldnt-look-myself-in-the-mirror-if-i-walked-away.html

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