Coronavirus: Fairborn couple credit God, medical staff for their recovery

Steve and Sophia Luster, a Fairborn couple who tested positive for COVID-19 in March, have been cleared of the virus. They say God, area health officials, and love and support from family and friends helped them overcome the virus. CONTRIBUTED

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Steve and Sophia Luster, a Fairborn couple who tested positive for COVID-19 in March, have been cleared of the virus. They say God, area health officials, and love and support from family and friends helped them overcome the virus. CONTRIBUTED

A Fairborn couple who tested positive for COVID-19 nearly a month ago have been cleared of the virus.

Steve and Sophia Luster say they are doing well now. They credit their strong faith and the care they received from area health-care providers with helping them overcome COVID-19, the disease caused by the new coronavirus.

The Lusters also have gotten overwhelming support and love from family, friends, neighbors and co-workers.

They initially were apprehensive about discussing their infection publicly because of the potential stigma, and they wanted to protect loved ones.

Related: COVID-19: Area couple with virus urge others to take it seriously, protect themselves

But based on the response and support they’ve gotten, Steve and Sophia Luster, both U.S. Navy veterans, are glad they told their story and hope it will help other families.

“(The COVID-19 pandemic) is going to touch people in a special way, and there’s going to be very little bit of that ignorance displayed toward people who have contracted (the virus),” Steve Luster said.

The couple are among the more than 44,000 people in the United States who have recovered from the virus. Ohio has more than 7,100 confirmed cases and 309 deaths, including two in Greene County.

The Lusters tested positive in mid-March after Sophia Luster, a Wright-Patterson Air Force Base employee, visited her doctor for a regularly scheduled appointment. The doctor noticed some abnormalities in her blood and they subsequently determined she was infected with the coronavirus.

Her husband was also tested as a precaution, and his results were positive.

They then went into home quarantine, and Greene County Public Health officials and the couple’s personal doctors closely monitored them. They checked on them multiple times a day, keeping track of their temperatures, symptoms and medication.

Donald Brannen, an epidemiologist in Greene and Clinton counties, said he and his staff used FaceTime and other video technology twice a day to monitor physical changes in the Lusters. They looked closely for bluish discoloration on the couple’s lips, high temperatures and painful or difficulty breathing, he said.

Related: COVID-19: Safe water systems crucial during outbreak

Those are indicators that COVID-19 patients’ conditions are getting worse, and they’d need to immediately see a medical provider or even go to the emergency room, said Brannen.

He has been impressed with the Lusters and other Greene County coronavirus patients — there are currently 30 — that he and his staff have been monitoring. They’ve all been compliant with the county’s orders to self-quarantine and other recommendations to help them recover. They are all selfless people who are doing all they can to avoid spreading the infection, Brannen said.

“They don’t want to get other people sick,” he said. “It’s amazing to see people come together, because we’ve had people in the past who’ve had active tuberculosis who undergo a similar type of quarantining, but for a much longer time, and not be as compliant. So they’re not even getting sick, but are very actively transmitting the disease. In this case, everybody that we’ve had, especially Sophia and Steve, they’ve just been wonderful to work with and very caring people.”

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Steve and Sophia Luster, an area couple who recently tested positive for COVID-19, are urging people to take the virus seriously and do their due diligence to avoid infecting others. | Contributed

Steve and Sophia Luster, an area couple who recently tested positive for COVID-19, are urging people to take the virus seriously and do their due diligence to avoid infecting others. | Contributed

Combined ShapeCaption
Steve and Sophia Luster, an area couple who recently tested positive for COVID-19, are urging people to take the virus seriously and do their due diligence to avoid infecting others. | Contributed

Although the majority of their symptoms were the same, there were some slight differences in the way the virus affected the Lusters. In the first week of experiencing symptoms, Steve Luster said the infection felt more like a bad cold, but it worsened. In addition to the constant coughing and sneezing, he lost his appetite for about five of the 18 days he was infected. He was tired most of the time and he had constant headaches, “which were worse than I’ve ever experienced in my life,” he said.

Some nights he’d wake up in a cold sweat, and his nerves were jittery at times. He also had to deal with constant aches and pain, he said.

“What made it significantly different than anything that I’ve experienced was the lack of energy; it zaps the strength out of you,” Steve Luster said. “I’m praying for people who have a severe case of this illness, because I don’t feel like we experienced anything near what some of the people who have been infected with this virus experienced.”

During one of Sophia Luster’s worst nights, she experienced hot flashes, cold chills and she felt as if there were weights on her extremities. She ached constantly and she was fatigued to the point where her body shut down. Some days she didn’t experience any symptoms, and she thought the worst was over. But they’d all return the following day, Sophia Luster said.

Related: CORONARIVUS: Complete coverage from the Dayton Daily News

The pain was so severe at times that she thought she was in her last days, particularly when she’d hear about the latest coronavirus death toll. She’d be overcome by fear, but then she’d be reminded of her relationship with God.

“I’m either here on earth and I’m serving him, or in heaven and I’m praising him,” she said. “So, I was ready. If he said this is what your life is going to be, then that’s what it was going to be.”

God’s plan, they believe, was for the couple to beat the infection and help others.

In early April, a Wright-Patt doctor asked if they’d be interested in donating their plasma, which can be used to treat other COVID-19 patients. They agreed, and each one submitted to two consecutive tests on April 6 and 10. Both were negative, indicating that they were no longer infected with the virus.

It felt like a weight had been lifted off Sophia Luster’s shoulders, she said. While she’s optimistic about the future, the uncertainty of not knowing if she can be infected again with COVID-19 or another strain of the coronavirus makes her nervous. Still, she’s counting her blessings, especially since their plasma will help others.

“We were blessed to not have severe symptoms that we were hospitalized or admitted to the ICU,” she said.

Steve Luster said he wasn’t surprised about the outcome, given their relationship with God. Besides, their bodies were responding to treatment, and their conditions weren’t severe, he said.

Related: Coronavirus: Life won’t be the same after slow re-opening of society

“The health department and medical people are doing the best they can with the supplies and the resources they have, but there are people who probably have the virus and haven’t been tested,” Steve Luster said. “So you just have to take the initiative to keep you and your family safe as we move through this thing because we still have a long way to go. We’ll get through it, but people have to be diligent and do everything that the health officials are saying we need to do.”


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