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thumbnail John Gutierrez (left) with his wife, Rosalinda Gutierrez, and their grandson, Quentin Gutierrez, in Phoenix in 2018.

John Gutierrez (left) with his wife, Rosalinda Gutierrez, and their grandson, Quentin Gutierrez, in Phoenix in 2018.

Marine Veteran encourages others to sign up for registry

January 13, 2021

By Mike Richman
VA Research Communications

"People just don't understand the severity of this disease."

John Gutierrez is battling his way through a challenging stretch.

After contracting the novel coronavirus in July, he spent 10 days in the hospital before being discharged. He’s been on investigational COVID-19 treatments, including the antiviral drug remdesivir and the steroid dexamethasone. He also received convalescent plasma, which is immune-boosting antibodies donated by people who have recovered from the disease. He’s now on oxygen almost the entire day.

Marine Veteran John Gutierrez
Marine Veteran John Gutierrez

Marine Veteran John Gutierrez

His COVID-19 symptoms are relatively light. But he sometimes experiences debilitating nausea at random.

‘It would just be added insurance’

Thanks to the care Gutierrez has received and the decisions made to expedite the availability of COVID-19 treatments, he’s alive today. But he doesn’t want other people to struggle like he has. That’s why he volunteered for VA’s COVID-19 research volunteer list, which connects potential participants to treatment and vaccine research trials.

“I volunteered for this registry only because I think it's important that people know a vaccine would be beneficial to them,” he says. “Going through the COVID-19 experience is not something that I would like other people to go through. It’s very important that a vaccine be initiated for people for their safety. Others should volunteer for this trial solely because it would be very beneficial to have a vaccine that is able to fight the virus. For health reasons, it would just be added insurance.”

Veteran: Everyone needs to take COVID-19 ‘seriously’

Gutierrez served in the Marines during the Vietnam era but never deployed. He took part in basic training in San Diego and spent time at a base in North Carolina. He’s worked in the airline industry for about 30 years and is now stationed at the American Airlines call center in Phoenix. He’s almost certain he contracted the virus in July at the call center.

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He’s been on three months of short-term medical leave from work but is expected to return soon. His wife also contracted COVID-19 but has shown no symptoms thus far.

“People just don’t understand the severity of this disease,” he says. “I just think everyone needs to take this very seriously because it’s something that can have a lasting effect on the rest of their lives. I'm just hoping that my lungs recuperate completely.”

How to sign up: Anyone over the age of 18 can volunteer to participate in VA research by signing up for the COVID-19 research volunteer list. If you are eligible to participate in a study, you will be contacted by a study coordinator who will answer your questions and help you decide if you wish to participate.

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