By Rachel Whetstone from In The Cloud Copy
For millions of Americans who are affected by rare diseases, hope and health lies in the availability of plasma donations. One use of the donated plasma involves the extraction of immunoglobulin (Ig), a type of protein that is found in the plasma. The immunoglobulin is then infused into the blood of sick patients. This treatment is effective against a variety of life-threatening diseases, but as more people are needing Ig infusions, the availability of plasma donors has not kept up with the demand.
A Growing Shortage
The United States is currently facing an acute shortage of immunoglobulin.
People around the United States often have to wait more than the recommended time between treatments. Sometimes they are forced to use reduced doses or try other treatments which are often less effective.
For people with diseases that require plasma treatments, this can increase their risk of complications, infections, and organ damage. Often, they find themselves dealing with more pain, as well. Hospitals are doing what they can to minimize any disruption of treatment, but new donations would provide the most impact for those who need plasma-based medicine.
A personal perspective
Megan Ryan is very familiar with plasma donation. Her very life depends on it.
Shortly after she graduated from college, she was diagnosed with a primary immunodeficiency disease. She now relies on immunoglobulin. Without the Ig treatments, she is prone to multiple and persistent serious infections. Even just one serious infection could be deadly to her.
Ryan enjoys travel and has the ability to go anywhere in the world, thanks to modern portable Ig pumps that can give her infusions without the need for a hospital center. She’s taken the opportunity in her travels to visit several plasma donation centers, and was grateful for the chance to thank the plasma donors personally.
Ryan explains, “I’m grateful every day for the healthy, committed individuals who donate plasma and allow me to live a happy, active life. I urge others to help the thousands of people like me who depend on this resource to consider becoming plasma donors, especially as we face this shortage.”
How people can help
Plasma donation is not as well-known as whole blood donation, and donation centers are not as numerous. However, there are centers located throughout the U.S., and many healthy people are able to donate.
Plasma donors are compensated for their time, since the process is more involved than blood donation, and the plasma can be used to make products which are sold. However, the exchange of money does not diminish the human connection that is shared between donors and recipients. People who make repeated donations are especially valuable and essential to creating treatments.
76% of plasma donors have been donating for two years or less, According to the Plasma Protein Therapeutics Association. This highlights a need for new donors who can continue to give their life-saving plasma.
For a chance to share plasma with those in need, potential donors can find a Biolife center.