A RETIRED nurse has backed an NHS campaign to get more people donating plasma to help boost stocks.
Dirk Perry receives immunoglobulin – a medicine made from the antibodies found in plasma – for the autoimmune disorder myasthenia gravis which sees his immune system is damage the communication system between his nerves and muscles.
The 52-year-old experiences symptoms including falls, slurred speech, difficulty breathing and eating, and poor upper body strength.
Dirk, who lives in Lowes Hill, Bromsgrove, is treated at the Queen Elizabeth Hospital in Birmingham and The Alexandra Hospital in Redditch.
He has joined the NHS Blood and Transplant All Types Can Save Lives campaign this month [November] with the message that most people can donate, no matter their blood type or background.
Dirk said: “Immunoglobulin gives me some relief from the most severe symptoms.
“Plasma donation is truly lifesaving – if it were not for receiving immunoglobulin, I probably wouldn’t be alive today. Please take time to donate – one day it could be you or a member of your family that needs treatment.”
There are currently around 2,000 regular plasma donors at the Birmingham centre on New Street and around 2,600 more are needed over the next year.
NHSBT says if enough people came forward in Birmingham over the next year, that would provide enough plasma medicine to save or improve around 100 lives, reducing how much the NHS has to import and creating a safer supply chain for patients.
It added plasma donation is similar to blood donation and takes about 35 minutes – the difference is blood is gradually ran through a machine which separates out the plasma.
The donor’s plasma contains antibodies, part of your body’s immune system, which strengthen or stabilise the patient’s immune system.
These antibodies are made into medicines including immunoglobulin – during 2021/2022, around 500 people from the West Midlands county received this medicine.
Plasma donation to the NHS only restarted in 2021 after a break of more than 20 years. Donation was stopped as a vCJD precaution until the Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency said new evidence showed it could safely restart.
The plasma being collected by NHSBT is being frozen and will improve future immunoglobulin supplies, when the full supply chain is in place.
Mark Bailey, Birmingham Plasma Donor Centre operations manager, said: “Many people don’t realise that they could donate but our amazing donors come from all walks of life.
“If you’re aged 17-65, fit and healthy, regardless of your blood type you could become a lifesaving plasma donor.
“Most people can donate plasma – and it feels great to provide life-saving medicines.”
For more or to book an appointment click here.