Bessie Papageorge is one of those good, solid, everyday Beloiters lots of people know from her longtime business occupation as a seamstress. Odds are Bessie has fixed up some clothing for you, or for someone you know.
Now Bessie’s name is added to the growing list of coronavirus heroes because of her caring, her concern, and her character.
But first, Bessie’s story is an object lesson for everyone to ponder. She contracted the potentially deadly coronavirus and suffered from COVID-19. She’s among the lucky ones who have had the virus and lived to tell about it. Bessie is not a doctor, a nurse, a paramedic, just an individual going about her day-to-day life who happened to come into contact somehow with the virus. It can happen to anybody. No one is immune. The virus doesn’t choose sides.
Right now, the only weapon in the world’s arsenal against the virus is mitigation, mostly in the form of social distancing and trying to stay out of harm’s way. There is no vaccine. The virus is not going away, with numbers of cases and deaths increasing every day. The best scientific information suggests the virus may come back stronger in the fall, like the seasonal flu, even if it eventually fades during the summer.
Which brings us back to Bessie.
As it stands, the medical community has had a tough time finding effective treatment options for persons seriously ill from the virus. Desperate means such as ventilators have been applied in the most extreme cases. A few drugs have shown differing degrees of efficacy in helping some patients. But, overall, until a vaccine or other breakthrough comes along, the medical community has been working hard just to stay a step ahead of the illnesses.
Bessie, after recovering, joined others like her in a new front against the deadly virus. Called convalescent plasma treatment, it really comes down to this. People who have recovered from the coronavirus will have antibodies to the disease in their blood. By donating, those recovered patients’ blood may help others in their struggle to get well. Bessie stepped up to donate, and Beloit Health System has been able to use her convalescent plasma to help others.
When times are good America trivializes heroism by making ball players and singers and actors larger than life. At times like this we are reminded who the real heroes are—doctors, nurses, paramedics, police officers, National Guard members, truck drivers, meat cutters, shelf stockers, mail deliverers and many more.
Including folks like Bessie Papageorge, who found a way to turn her misfortune into someone else’s lifeline. She’s among the first able and willing to be a source for convalescent plasma. There will be more in our community, and we thank them all.