Conquering COVID-19: How to Give Back to those Still Fighting

Vincent Johnson is a photojournalist and owns a media company in Chicago. At the beginning of the pandemic, as business slowed and forced him to pivot, like many other business owners, he started shooting a documentary on people who were quarantining. Little did he know, the script would soon be flipped.

By May, Vincent started feeling off. He’d been jogging a lot, but soon started getting short of breath whenever he exercised. Even climbing stairs and talking became difficult. He then lost his taste and smell and soon after was diagnosed with COVID-19.

“You start lying to yourself about what you have,” Vincent says. “When I lost sense of smell, I started googling ways I could lose my sense of smell, trying to blame it on other stuff. You start telling yourself that’s the reason. But then you start the shortness of breath, and you know you have it.”

Once diagnosed, Vincent immediately thought of his family.

“When I officially had my smell gone for 24 hours, I made videos to say goodbye to my wife and kids,” he says. “My wife was in New York working as a physician’s assistant at the hospitals helping COVID patients. If I went into the hospital here (in Chicago), she wasn’t going to see me. The kids weren’t going to see me.”

Thankfully, Vincent was able to make a full recovery and, in return, paid it forward to others still fighting it. He donated blood to the Red Cross in July and found out he still had antibodies. He was soon encouraged to donate his convalescent plasma. He signed up and donated.

“I always tell people, just go. It’s not that hard,” Vincent says. “You can help somebody out. I know that it’s going to go somewhere and it’s valuable.”

Vincent donates blood with the Red Cross about three times a year, as well. He’s been donating since he was a kid growing up in Joliet.

“I feel like it’s my duty. If it allows somebody to hug somebody they love afterwards, it’s worth it to me.”

As the pandemic wears on, the need for blood and convalescent plasma continues. If you are healthy and feeling well, we encourage you to donate blood. If you have fully recovered from COVID-19, consider donating your plasma. Visit to schedule an appointment today.

Written by Hannah Allton, Regional Communications Manager

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