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ARLINGTON HEIGHTS, Ill. (July 22, 2020) – Did you know there are tens of thousands of people who could benefit from your life-saving plasma donation? The U.S. is currently experiencing a devastating shortage of plasma, and those in need are being forced to skip necessary treatments or go without – a possibly fatal situation.
“Plasma, which is one component of blood, is a bit of a miracle cure,” says allergist J. Allen Meadows, MD, president of the American College of Allergy, Asthma and Immunology. “Allergists around the country treat a condition called Primary Immunodeficiency with a therapy made from plasma. Primary Immunodeficiency is a group of inherited immune deficiencies that leave those affected unable to produce antibodies making them highly vulnerable to infections. Immune globulin (IG) infusions, made from plasma, give those with immune deficiencies the antibodies their immune system does not produce naturally. That helps protect them from infections.”
Here are some important stats about IG therapy for Primary Immunodeficiency:
- It takes more than 130 plasma donations per year to treat one patient with Primary Immunodeficiency. 10-40 donations go into a single dose of gamma globulin. 1,500-50,000 units of plasma go into a single batch.
- Plasma donations are different from blood donations. Blood donations are mostly used for surgeries, whereas the need for plasma is ongoing and constant.
- While it is possible to get a small amount of plasma from a whole blood donation, a plasma-only donation provides about twice as much of this life-saving component each time someone donates. Also, you can donate plasma more often than you can donate whole blood.
- Patients can’t get treated without donated plasma, and they need the IG infusions made from plasma every month throughout their entire life. Without the treatment, they are prone to life-threatening infections.
- Plasma donation is a safe process. Highly developed standards are in place to protect donors. These procedures have been expanded during the COVID-19 pandemic.
- 20 percent of board-certified allergists have one or more immunodeficient patients.
“Plasma donation is a gift of life,” says Dr. Meadows. “When you donate plasma, you are giving a patient with Primary Immunodeficiency a chance to ward off infections and live a normal life.” You can find information on where to donate plasma in your area on the website DonatingPlasma.org. The site features a searchable tool where you plug in your zip code to find plasma donation locations.