New Direction > August 21, 2020

Ella Nobles turns COVID-19 experience into way to help others

One sunny day in May, Ella Nobles woke up and got dressed to go to work at Nacogdoches Memorial, just as she had every weekday for the past 30 years. When the administrative executive assistant sprayed on some perfume, she realized she couldn’t smell the fragrance. Later she was surprised to realize that she couldn’t taste her breakfast either.

After alerting the chief nursing officer and immediately getting tested, Ella went home to quarantine for what she assumed would be a couple of weeks, her mind full of thoughts of her children, their love and concern and her own trepidation at possibly dealing with a “virus that even the doctors don’t know much about.”

Days passed and positive COVID-19 test results came back. “I was overwhelmed with fear,” Ella admitted, “but I held tight to my faith and belief in the word of God. 2 Timothy 1:7 tells us that God has not given us a spirit of fear, but of power and love and a sound mind.”

Over the next weeks, Ella says her walk with God was put to the test because she kept hearing about the fatal outcome for others in the world. “Knowing family and other acquaintances that did not survive the virus was heartbreaking.

Fear and anxiety plagued me at night which increased my difficulty breathing,” she recalled. “The feelings of loneliness from the isolation were the worst - not being able to see my loved ones or feel the simple embrace of a hug.”

When the time to retest arrived, Ella was all ready to jump back into her life. First thing she wanted to do was see her kids. With one negative result under her belt, all she needed was one more negative test before she could get her “normal” back. But Ella’s path wasn’t going to take the normal route. Her second retest came back positive for COVID-19 and Ella was crushed.

“I won’t lie, because my plans were crushed, my spirit grew weak. I couldn’t believe that I wasn’t yet done with the COVID-19 fight. As the days and nights grew longer, my symptoms returned and my body was tired,” she said. “All I had was my faith in God and my family and friends’ encouragement to stay strong. I know that God makes no mistakes and I feel like I was chosen to go through this for a reason.”

Ella decided that making it through meant she was supposed to help other people through it too. How that would look became clearer when a friend called and asked her to donate convalescent plasma to help him recover from the virus. She was eager to help and reached out to the Gulf Coast Blood Center for guidance.

This was such a new endeavor that the research process took a couple of weeks, so she wasn’t able to help her friend who recovered on his own, but the conversation started the ball rolling. She ended up at the East Texas Blood Center, donating her plasma to literally help others fight the fight with her antibodies.

“This week, I got the best text message telling me that my donation was used to save the life of someone who is fighting for their life against COVID -19,” she said, with delight. “Isn’t that something?”

Ella is scheduled to donate convalescent plasma again this weekend and plans to do so repeatedly as long as she has antibodies, which could be up to six months. The medical experts are still learning the ins and outs and afterwards of this virus, so there’s no way for her to know exactly how long she can continue.

The process of collecting the plasma takes about 45 minutes and a finger prick is all it takes to see if you have the antibodies. Ella said she was a little tired after her donation, but otherwise felt no ill effects.

“The Bible says ‘I shall live and not die and by His stripes, I am healed,’” said Ella. That message resonates even more for her now. “If you are like me and have made it to the other side of this virus, by the grace of God join me in helping save lives by donating plasma.”

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 Nacogdoches Memorial administrative executive assistant, Ella Nobles, poses for a picture.

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