MASON, Ohio (WKRC) - As health systems deal with a shortage of personal protection equipment (PPE) around the country, a Mason teenager is doing his part to help locally.
Even with federal regulation changes allowing the cleaning and reuse of masks, it isn’t enough. In an effort to lessen the burden, 17-year-old Jiahao Guo is making a difference on the frontlines.
"The entire community needs to step up and all help to defeat the virus,” said Guo.
Guo is doing more than his part during this time where most of us are staying home. He and his friends are fundraising to purchase masks in China, ship them here and distribute to medical professionals in the area.
"We’ve been able to purchase over 2,000 procedural masks and over 200 N95 masks,” said Guo.
Guo and his high school friends in China can do this because as China recovers, masks are once again available to the public to buy and the supply is full, but you can’t buy in bulk -- more than 100 units -- so every purchase counts.
"Even a small package makes a difference. If we can buy lots of the small packages of masks and ship them over, it’s small initially, but once it adds up -- couple hundred, couple thousand -- it really starts to make a difference,” said Guo.
Since PPE began coming in, donations have been made to UC Health -- lots of donations on multiple occasions. Most recently, they donated 500 procedural masks, 38 N95 masks, 20 handmade face shields and one bodysuit on April 16.
“We are so grateful for all those within the community who are showing support for our medical professionals and our patients during this time,” said UC Health spokeswoman Amanda Nageleisen.
But UC Health isn’t the only recipient. On Tuesday, Santa Maria Community Services got a big donation of 300 procedural masks to help its workers and the communities it serves.
When the virus made world news and began to spread in China, Guo and his friends began fundraising at school, buying masks in the United States and sending them to doctors in China. As the virus quickly spread around the world, the tables turned and Guo found himself in a position to buy overseas and bring products home.
“It’s definitely an opportunity to do whatever you want, so it’s just a matter of how you spend this time,” said Guo. ”Our goal is to make ourselves obsolete. Our goal is to work until we are not needed anymore.”
Minutes after Guo shared his story with Local 12, another shipment arrived: two packages containing 200 procedural masks, 35 N95 masks and five medical goggles. All the items will be donated soon.
For more information on the Coronavirus Relief Project and how to help, click here.
To donate to their GoFund Me, click here.
For more information about how to support UC Health, click here.