One year of plasma donations for medicines
On April 7, 2022 NHSBT marks the first-year anniversary of collecting plasma for medicine – a major milestone for the whole of NHS Blood and Transplant.
We will be celebrating our lifesaving donors and staff with events in our donor centres and sharing their stories.
NHSBT started collecting plasma just a few weeks after the Government announced it was lifting the ban on the use of UK plasma to produce immunoglobulins. NHSBT then pivoted our centres from the closing convalescent plasma research trials at short notice.
Over the past year, the Birmingham, Twickenham and Reading plasma donor centres have together taken around 12,300 donations from 4,800 people. This is in addition to starting to recover plasma from whole blood for these medicines.
Immunoglobulins boost or stabilise the immune systems of people with rare, life-threatening disorders.
Plasma from UK donors could not be used for immunoglobulin between 1998 and 2021, one of the precautions put in place against variant Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease. The restriction was lifted based on independent advice from the Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency (MHRA).
Plasma for Medicines is now an established directorate at NHSBT, alongside Blood Supply and Organ and Tissue Donation and Transplantation.
Gerry Gogarty, NHSBT Director of Plasma for Medicines said: “Because of the ban, the UK has relied on imported immunoglobulin. Donation to NHSBT will now create a domestic supply and bolster the supply chain. The plasma is being stored, ready to be made into immunoglobulin when a full manufacturing and supply chain is in place.
“This was an important expansion of services for NHSBT. The need for plasma and immunoglobulins is growing around the world. And it is critical to NHSBT’s overarching vision - that every patient should receive the donation they need.
“We’re grateful to everyone who has donated over this incredible first year. Plasma donation is new to most people, so try it if you can – you’ll help save lives.”
Meet our plasma donors
Stephen Brown, 37, from Longbridge, in Birmingham donates plasma after three members of his family received lifesaving blood or plasma transfusions.
His son suffered multi-organ failure, his cousin lost a leg in a farming accident, and his grandfather had bone marrow failure.
He said: “I love it. I feel like I am repaying a debt for my son. I feel like I am saving my son’s life again, that’s how I feel. I feel like donation is my duty – that’s the only way I can describe it.”
The donor at Twickenham who has donated plasma the most times so far is Lindsay Kaveri, 60, from Southend on Sea, who has donated 20 times.
Lindsay, an R&D manager at an industrial company, said: “Not only does it help less fortunate people you also get enormous satisfaction from donating. The staff do a great job and it’s very relaxed.”
Sheila, 57, from Eton Wick in Windsor, is the most frequent donor in Reading, with 19 donations.
Sheila, an accountant, said: “The ladies in the donor centre explained how it helps people which is really interesting.
“I just think with donating, that you never know when you might need it yourself, and it helps other people when they need it. I will keep donating for as long as I can.”
- First day of plasma donation at Twickenham on 7 April 2021
- Stephen Brown and family
- Lindsay Kaveri