Aggie Hero: Julie Amaro

Julie Amaro poses with fellow nurses
UC Davis Health nurse Julie Amaro, center, poses with fellow nurses when she returned to work after having contracted COVID-19. Courtesy photo

Note: This month, UC Davis honors all of its heroes on the front lines. Aggie Hero and UC Davis Health nurse Julie Amaro is a representative of the front line heroes; but there are so many more who have been instrumental in the university’s battle against COVID-19.

Sometimes nurses get sick; it’s a hazard of the job.

But when Julie Amaro, a nurse in the Medical Intensive Care Unit at UC Davis Health developed a cough on a Wednesday in March, she said she still “felt fine.”

By that Saturday, however, Amaro had fever, chills, extreme fatigue and loss of appetite. When her COVID-19 test results came back positive, she was not surprised.

And when her boss asked her, “What do you want me to say?” — because her own privacy protection could keep her story from being shared — Amaro said emphatically: “Tell them I got it! ... It’s not a joke, it’s the real deal, and it can hit you hard.”

Her case of COVID-19 did hit her hard, including 10 days at UC Davis Medical Center, with three of those in the ICU.

While Amaro was surprised by how much the virus took out of her — she laughed when explaining it took her weeks after her discharge to be able to walk the half-mile to get to her local donut shop where she “wanted my chocolate donut!” — she was anxious to get back to her unit.

“I love work,” Amaro said, and missing it was hard on her. “I love what I’m doing as a nurse, the types of patients I see, (and) my coworkers are fabulous.”

And 28 days after being symptom-free, Amaro was able to donate “convalescent plasma.” The antibodies in a recovered COVID-19 patient’s blood are being studied to see if they can help sick patients.

“I missed out being on the front lines” while sick, Amaro said. “Being a plasma donator made me feel like I’m helping.