Donating plasma helps fight immune disorder

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  • Plasma, which is a component of blood, helps people with immune deficiencies
  • It supplies patients with the antibodies their immune system doesn't produce naturally
  • By donating plasma, we give someone with Primary Immunodeficiency a chance to live a normal life


Tens of thousands of people with immune system deficiencies could benefit from plasma donations, but there is a drastic shortage of plasma, allergists say.

That means that many people who need plasma have to skip treatments or go without, which can be potentially fatal, they added.

"Plasma, which is one component of blood, is a bit of a miracle cure," said Dr J. Allen Meadows, allergist and president of the American College of Allergy, Asthma and Immunology (ACAAI).

Highly vulnerable to infections

"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," Meadows explained in an ACAAI news release.

"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," he said.

Did you know:

  • It takes 130 plasma donations or more per year to treat one patient with Primary Immunodeficiency. Ten to 40 donations make up a single dose of gamma globulin. There are 1 500 to 50 000 units of plasma in one batch.
  • Plasma donations are not like blood donations, which are mostly used for surgery. The need for plasma is constant.
  • It's possible to get some plasma from a blood donation, but plasma-only donation gives about twice as much. You can donate plasma more often than whole blood.
  • Donating plasma is safe.

"Plasma donation is a gift of life," Meadows said. "When you donate plasma, you are giving a patient with Primary Immunodeficiency a chance to ward off infections and live a normal life."

Image credit: iStock

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