Man saved by stranger's plasma donation backs NHS blood donation campaign - The Solihull Observer

Man saved by stranger's plasma donation backs NHS blood donation campaign

Solihull Editorial 21st Apr, 2024   0

A MAN whose toes and thumbs went numb when he was struck down by a rare disease has applauded those who donate plasma and helped change his life around.

To mark Plasma Donation Week, which runs until April 28, the NHS is celebrating the unique difference 2,600 plasma donors in Birmingham makes to around 17,000 people in England who need lifesaving medicines made from their donated plasma.

This includes Gary Khan who went from fit and healthy to virtually bedbound and unable to walk after the sudden onset of Chronic Inflammatory Demyelinating Polyneuropathy (CIDP) – where the immune system attacks the nervous system causing progressive weakness and impaired sensory function in the legs and arms.

The former musician and athlete turned coach and businessman started to notice symptoms in October 2020.

Gary was diagnosed in early 2021 but despite treatment including steroids and plasma exchanges, his condition continued to deteriorate.

Doctors at Queen Elizabeth Hospital, Birmingham, decided to try immunoglobulin, a medicine made from plasma. It contains healthy antibodies from plasma donors, which help stabilise Gary’s immune system and stop the damaging attacks on his nervous system.

The 56-year-old said: “I am really lucky. We found something that helped me, and I have been surrounded by people supporting me. I thought at one point that the best outcome would have just been being able to stand up.

“It was like someone had flicked on a switch and my muscles had begun to work properly again. I had joint issues and muscle wastage because of the condition but I have been doing rehab and now have very few problems.

“Until you’re a recipient, you don’t appreciate the importance of donating. Plasma donation is invaluable, and I applaud the people who don’t have a personal interest who just go and donate anyway.”

Now Gary has infusions over two days every four weeks at Queen Elizabeth Hospital, Birmingham.

A spokesperson for NHS Blood and Transplant said: “There is a growing need for the unique medicines made from plasma which is used to treat over 50 diseases.

“We need around 400 more people to donate plasma at our new Birmingham Plasma Centre this year to help save even more lives.

“It’s as easy as giving blood and takes around an hour. If you’re the giving type, please book an appointment today.”

Plasma is part of the blood. It’s a yellow liquid which carries everything around the body, including antibodies.

During a donation, a machine gradually separates out up to 700mls of plasma from the blood.

Donation takes about 35 minutes and the whole visit – including questionnaires and snacks – takes around one hour 15 minutes.

For more or to book an appointment click here.



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