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How you can donate plasma and save a life

State Point Media

Millions of people around the world rely on plasma to treat a range of conditions, including rare inherited diseases, severe burns and trauma, liver disorders, and for cancer supportive care.

What are the benefits for the donors?

Health check: Before donating plasma, donors undergo a health screening. This can help identify any unknown health issues early on.

Regenerative properties: The human body quickly regenerates the plasma donated, usually within 24 to 48 hours which has regenerative properties. This fast recovery means individuals can donate regularly, aiding ongoing medical needs.

Compensation: In many states, plasma donors may receive monetary compensation for their time and commitment. This can be an incentive for regular donations.

What are the recipient benefits?

"Plasma-derived medicines are often the only therapies available for patients with many rare, chronic and potentially debilitating and life-threatening diseases," said Anita Brikman, president and chief executive officer of the Plasma Protein Therapeutics Association. "In short, donating plasma helps save lives."

To encourage individuals to learn more and to donate plasma, if they are eligible, the Plasma Protein Therapeutics Association is sharing patient insights, along with answers to some frequently asked questions about the uses of plasma in healthcare and why we need more of it:

What is plasma and why is it so useful in treating such a broad range of health conditions?

Plasma is the single largest component of human blood, making up about 55% of blood volume. Plasma proteins help the body fight infection, clot blood and regulate blood pressure. Patients with certain genetic disorders are unable to make some of those critical proteins and antibodies, but they can be isolated from donated plasma and help compensate for that shortfall.

Plasma-derived medicines can also be beneficial for individuals with a compromised immune system due to treatment for cancer or an organ transplant.

Who benefits from plasma donations?

Medicines made from donated plasma help those with certain neurological, lung, bleeding and immune system disorders lead healthy, productive lives. Some of these rare conditions can be life-threatening without the right treatment.

After noticing that it was hard to breathe during tasks such as shoveling snow and mowing the lawn, military veteran Dan Coffin was tested for and diagnosed with Alpha-1 antitrypsin deficiency, an incurable, inherited disorder that may cause lung disease and liver disease.

"I went from being extremely physically fit to having trouble with simple tasks in the yard. The plasma protein therapy infusions I receive, thanks to the generosity of donors, make it possible for me to live an active and healthy life again," said Coffin.

Many others also benefit from plasma-derived therapies, such as trauma patients, organ transplant recipients, children with HIV, and anyone who has ever received a rabies or tetanus shot. Both treatments, which are often delivered after incidents such as being bitten by a wild animal or stepping on a rusty nail, are made from plasma that contains antibodies to those pathogens.

Additionally, for some mothers and babies, an incompatibility in blood type can result in severe anemia and jaundice in newborns unless the mother receives Rho(D) immune globulin made from plasma.

Why are plasma-derived medicines unique?

Plasma-derived medicines are not like other pharmaceuticals. Plasma can't be made in a lab and it is not an infinite resource. It often takes hundreds of individual donations to collect enough plasma to create the medicine needed for a single patient each year. That's why patients who rely on these therapies are so dependent on donors.

How can people donate plasma?

To learn more about donor eligibility and the donation process, and to find a local licensed and certified plasma donation center, visit https://www.donatingplasma.org/.

"So many people know about donating blood, but they don't know about the need for donated plasma," says Brikman. "Plasma donations are vital in helping patients who rely on plasma-derived medicines to improve or save their lives. Donate plasma today and give someone the chance to live a happier and healthier life."

 

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