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'It's going to save my life' | High-risk COVID-19 patient receives antibody treatment

One Austin man said he could have easily ended up in the hospital had it not been for his doctor getting him a COVID-19 antibody treatment.

AUSTIN, Texas — In one Austin family, two people have tested positive for COVID-19. 

"My wife had it, unfortunately, and we thought we did a pretty good job of isolating that," said James Barnett, the father of three girls. "Apparently not."

While he said his children have not caught the virus, there was concern when he learned he had.

"I'm a walking risk factor," said Barnett, explaining he has underlying health conditions. 

Two of the conditions he has, doctors said, put him in the high-risk category for COVID-19.

"A little overweight, that's a big one for this disease," Barnett said. "I have pretty severe asthma. That's probably the biggest thing that worried me."

Credit: Barnett family

Barnett said he spoke with his doctor shortly after he learned he had tested positive. He said she got him set up to receive a type of antibody treatment through Ascension Seton called bamlanivimab, or BAM therapy for short.

"It's basically a monoclonal antibody which basically binds to a specific part of the coronavirus called the spike proteins. A lot of people keep hearing about that," said Dr. Nichole Perez, the chief medical officer of Austin Ascension Medical Group Texas. "And once it does that, the antibodies bind to the spike proteins preventing the coronavirus from further attaching to the cells and therefore stopping the virus from replicating." 

Sonia Gonzalez, a nurse practitioner at Ascension Seton, went on to call it a "miracle drug," especially if used in the early stages of someone getting the virus 

"They go from mild symptoms or moderate symptoms to getting better instead of going mild, moderate, severe," Gonzalez said.

Credit: Barnett family

Both Gonzalez and Dr. Perez explained this is important for high-risk patients to help them get better before their symptoms get severe – potentially keeping them out of the hospital. 

"Absolutely. Every number counts," Dr. Perez said. "Every patient that we can keep out of the hospital makes a huge difference."

Barnett agreed BAM therapy made all the difference, saying he believes it saved his life. 

"I was one of those people that could have been in the hospital on day 10, like a lot of people are. And, instead, I felt like I was well after five days," he said.

Bamlanivimab is used for treating COVID-19 patients who are adults or children over 12 years old with mild to moderate symptoms who are in the high-risk category. 

For more details on BAM therapy, click here

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