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Grand Valley State University student recovers from COVID-19, donates plasma to ‘pay it forward’

Hannah Grinwis is in the physician assistant studies program

Hannah Grinwis.
Hannah Grinwis. (GVSU)

GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. – A Grand Valley State University graduate student who recovered from coronavirus (COVID-19) said it’s difficult to be studying health care and not able to practice what she knows.

Hannah Grinwis, 25, is in her second year of GVSU’s physician assistant studies program. Her clinical rotations were canceled because of the COVID-19 pandemic.

“It’s hard to be sidelined during this health care phenomenon,” she said. "My classmates and I are passionate about caring for others, so it is hard not being able to help patients in a feasible way right now.”

Grinwis developed a dry cough and minor body aches in March, while home with her husband in Kent City. After the onset of the initial symptoms, things quickly became more severe.

“I had a fever and pretty severe upper back and chest pain that worsened when breathing deeply,” she said. “I also had a very severe headache, shortness of breath and fatigue. I lost my appetite and sense of smell and taste.”

Grinwis tested positive for COVID-19 at a Spectrum Health tent in Grand Rapids.

“I have no idea where I got this,” she said. “We followed strict safety procedures during rotations and I had not been working with any patients who were possible COVID-19 patients.”

Grinwis said her husband and sister developed symptoms but neither developed a fever or more severe symptoms. They all recovered at home.

When she was feeling better, Grinwis said she wanted to find a way to “pay it forward.” She decided to donate plasma.

To donate, she needed to be symptom-free for at least 14 days and test negative for coronavirus. She was approved in April and now donates plasma once a week.

“It’s important for me to give back to the community that has helped me,” she said. “I grew up in West Michigan and I want to serve the people who helped me get to this point.”


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