NEW ORLEANS, La. (WVUE) - Some Jefferson Parish deputies who survived COVID-19 now hope they can help others battle the virus too.
They donated their blood to help in the current research to find the best treatments.
Sheriff Joe Lopinto said out of 110 employees tested, about half came back positive for COVID-19.
"They run the gamut of the people you see here today that have been able to recover, and I think I also have six employees that are still in the hospital at this point in time," Lopinto said.
He said they partnered with the LSU Cancer Center and the National Cancer Institute to aid in their research.
"We had a subset of individuals from our employee base that we know had tested positive that we know have been able to recover and were able to provide about ten samples here today," Lopinto said.
Dr. Augusto Ochoa, the Director of LSU Health Scott Cancer Center with LSU health says they will study the immune response from the deputies who recovered without being hospitalized.
"Obviously, their immune system responded well and defended them and cured them of the disease, and we'd like to compare that to those indivduals that did not fare so well," Ochoa said.
He said the goal is to look for antibodies in immune responses that were most successful.
"It will be very important for the tests, for the development of future vaccines, for the developments of future treatments," Ochoa said.
Sheriff Lopinto said they have enough personal protective equipment for deputies who respond to calls, while they try to handle some cases over the phone."
“Every one of our officers have full PPE gear, they also each have two N95 masks to be able to wear to any call that they deem necessary, and on suspected COVID cases, they get in full gear,” Lopinto said.
He said hopefully their donations will bring researchers closer to saving lives.
"I can tell you nearly every one of them volunteered. Yes, we'll do whatever we can to make sure we can help everybody out. You know, it hits close to home us losing a member of our family last week and they understand this is serious," Lopinto said.
According to LSU Health, part of the samples will be analyzed at LSU, while the rest will be sent to the National Cancer Institute for research.