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4:13 PM, Feb 27, 2020

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New treatment used to care for Denver woman who developed blood clots after J&J vaccine

Morgan Wolfe
Posted at 11:54 AM, May 05, 2021
and last updated 2021-05-05 11:54:37-04

AURORA, Colo. — Nearly one in a half-million was Morgan Wolfe’s chances of developing blood clots after receiving the Johnson and Johnson COVID-19 vaccine.

"I'm definitely curious as to the cause because it’s a super rare occurrence," Wolfe said.

Wolfe got her shot on April 1. About a week later is when she started feeling the effects.

"Suddenly in the afternoon, I just all at once felt a headache and chills and body aches," Wolfe said.

Her symptoms continued to worsen, and on April 13, Wolfe made her way to the UCHealth University of Colorado Hospital Anschutz ER. That's when the news broke that the CDC was suspending use of the Johnson & Johnson vaccine to investigate reports of dangerous but rare blood clots.

"I feel like there’s this sort of little blip of being fortunate in an unfortunate situation" Wolfe said.

Doctors immediately ran extensive tests.

"We did a CT scan that showed a clot in the brain and a clot in the lungs," said Dr. Todd Clark, the assistant medical director at UCHealth University of Colorado Hospital.

Only days earlier, the CDC released new information telling doctors not to use the blood thinning medicine heparin, typically used for blood clots.

"The thought was heparin was more likely to make it worse in this clotting situation than others, therefore let’s play it safe and try something different," Clark said.

Clark and his team at UCHealth chose the drug bivalirudin.

"At the time when she (Wolfe) showed up, there was no guidance, no published cases of how to do this without heparin," Clark said.

Weeks later, the CDC published a study with 12 cases of treating patients with the rare blood clots. In two of the cases, bivalirudin was used.

Wolfe was treated with the same drug and it worked. After six days in the hospital, she was able to go home.

She still has headaches, but said she is feeling better and added she would still get vaccinated if she could do it all over again.

"Yes, I would still get vaccinated, just given the knowledge that I have now, I would choose Moderna or Pfizer," Wolfe said.

Colorado health officials says there have been eight reports of people who experienced rare cases of blood clotting after receiving a dose of the J&J vaccine.

This story was originally published by Gary Brode on Scripps station KMGH in Denver.