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California family trying to save father with coronavirus in need of blood donation

The family is also bringing attention to the need for blood donations from COVID-19 survivors.

The trauma surrounding the coronavirus also known as COVID-19, continues to hit families in different ways every day.

“It’s so new to us and the world and we’re all just flying by the seat of our pants,” Ashley Kassis said. 

Ashley and her family are in a place nobody wants to be.

“At first it sounded like he had a bad cold, a deep cough, but he was worried,” she said about her father 78-year-old James Kassis, who recently tested positive for COVID-19.

Ashley said her family recently traveled to Mexico and when they returned her father became ill.

With so many questions surrounding how to treat the virus, Ashley’s sister, Amber, took to social media a made a desperate plea on Instagram for a blood donor with type-O blood.

The post quickly went viral.

In James’ case, the donor has to be someone who had COVID-19 and recovered. The antibodies are one way in which medical professionals are trying to treat the virus.

“It’s just another way to potentially help him heal,” Ashley said. “While it may not cure him, the goal is to get him to the point where he can survive. That’s one method to potentially do that.”

Ashley said the San Diego Blood Bank has seemed open to help, but they too are dealing with new protocols.

News 8 contacted them and they confirmed they are seeking donors who have recovered from the virus but only those who have had a positive test result - not people who think they may have had it. 

There is a list of requirements for people who qualify to donate for COVID patients. They say that could inundate the system for those that need help.

Navigating a new world with the virus, the Kassis family is hoping protocols are quickly put in place to help those who need blood donations.

“We just come into roadblock after roadblock and we think we make headway and then it’s one step forward and three steps back,” Ashley said.

It’s something no family wants to experience. James has four children and four grandchildren. All who just want this nightmare to end and they know they are not alone.  

“It’s not just us experiencing this, it’s people across the world that have no idea how to battle this and the U.S. is not prepared for this,“ Ashley said.

The San Diego Blood Bank just started a sign-up list on their website for people who qualify to donate.

Again, the main goal is to find people who have tested positive and meet a variety of other requirements.


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View all News 8 coverage of coronavirus / COVID-19  
News 8 has joined forces with The San Diego Foundation to raise immediate, emergency funds for our most vulnerable neighbors in need. Here is how you can help.  

We also have a Frequently Asked Questions page we will continue updating with the latest information and reports.  

Click here to watch "Facts Not Fear," a News 8 Special on coronavirus from March 26, 2020. 


According to the CDC, coronavirus (COVID-19) is a family of viruses that is spreadable from person to person. Coronavirus is believed to have been first detected in a seafood market in Wuhan, China in December 2019. If someone is sick with coronavirus, the symptoms they may show include mild to severe respiratory illness, cough, and difficulty breathing.  

Currently, there is no vaccine, however, the CDC suggests the following precautions, as with any other respiratory illness:  

Know how it spreads:  

  • There is no vaccine  

  • The best way to prevent illness is to avoid being exposed to the virus 

  • It is thought to spread mainly from person-person between people in close contact 

  • And believed to be spread by respiratory droplets produced when an infected person coughs or sneezes 

Protect yourself 

  • Wash your hands with soap and water for a minimum of 20 seconds 

  • If soap and water aren't available, use hand sanitizer that contains at least 60% alcohol 

  • Avoid touching your eyes, nose, and mouth 

  • Avoid close contact with people who are sick 

  • Put distance between yourselves and others 

Protect others 

  • Stay home when you are sick 

  • Wear a facemask if you are sick 

  • Cover your cough or sneeze with a tissue, then throw the tissue in the trash 

  • If you don't have tissue, cough or sneeze into the inside of your elbow 

  • Immediately wash your hands after coughing and sneezing  

  • Clean and disinfect frequently touched objects and surfaces using a regular household cleaning spray or wipe 

You can find information on disinfecting and cleaning on the CDC's How to Protect Yourself page. 

The California Department of Public Health has issued guidance on the use of cloth face coverings to protect against the spread of the novel coronavirus COVID-19.  

The County of San Diego has made face coverings mandatory for those working with the public including grocery stores, pharmacies, gas stations, convenience stores, and similar businesses. 

While officials say these face coverings are not a substitute for practices like social distancing and handwashing, there is evidence to suggest that the use of cloth face coverings by the public during a pandemic could help reduce disease transmission. Officials do not recommend the public use N-95 or surgical masks which are needed by health care workers and first responders. 


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