“290 plasma donations transform my life every year”

The NHS appeals for more plasma donors to come forward to help save lives of people like Gary.

24 April 2024

Plasma Donation Week celebrates the unique difference plasma donors make to those who rely on medicines made from plasma to save or improve their lives. 

This Plasma Donation Week [22 – 28 April], the NHS is calling on more people to come forward and donate plasma to help around 17,000 people in England who need life-saving medicines made from plasma.

It takes around 290 plasma donations a year* to help transform the life of someone like Gary Khan, from Alcester, Warwickshire, who has Chronic Inflammatory Demyelinating Polyneuropathy (CIDP) – a rare disorder where the immune system attacks the nervous system causing progressive weakness and impaired sensory function in the legs and arms. 

Gary’s symptoms are treated with 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. 

Today, Gary has infusions over two days every four weeks at Queen Elizabeth Hospital, Birmingham, which help to keep him well. 

Gary 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.

56-year-old Gary went from fit and healthy to virtually bedbound and unable to walk after the sudden onset of the autoimmune disease. 

The former musician and athlete, turned coach and businessman, started to notice symptoms in October 2020. “I got in the shower one morning and my toes and thumbs went numb, on both sides at the same time,” said the married dad of two. 

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, which saw immediate improvements to Gary’s symptoms and he now has regular infusions to maintain his health.

Gary said: “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.” 

Image of Gary, a recipient of plasma medicines, with the statement "290 plasma donations transform Gary's life"


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 even more donors to come forward 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.  

There are currently three dedicated plasma donation centres in the country, in Birmingham, Reading and Twickenham. Plasma is also recovered from whole blood donations taken across England.

If you’re the giving type, sign up to donate plasma.