You might not know what plasma is, but you might know these celebrities

25 March 2024

Many people rely on medicines made from plasma to treat a variety of immune disorders, including those affecting celebrities such as Celine Dion (stiff person syndrome), Mrs Hinch’s son (Kawasaki disease) and Sufjan Stevens (Guillain Barre syndrome).

You can find out more about plasma through the following links:

There are many diseases that are often treated by plasma medicines. You might not have heard of these diseases but may know these celebrities who live with these conditions.

Celine Dion, Stiff Person Syndrome

Celine Dion pictured singing on stageCeline Dion, 55, was diagnosed with Stiff Person Syndrome (SPS) in 2022, an extremely rare, long-term disorder that can cause painful muscle spasms and stiffness.

The famous singer took to social media to share her diagnosis, explaining that her muscle spasms affect every aspect of her daily life, forcing her to cancel her upcoming tour.

SPS can often start with painful spasms in the leg and back, but can spread to the abdomen, arms neck, and face. The areas where muscle contractions occur can be stiff and board-like.

Over time, individuals with SPS can develop an exaggerated curve and changes in their spine alignment. Some may experience difficulty walking, putting them at risk of falling and causing further injuries. It’s common for people with SPS to experience anxiety leaving the house due to loud noises and weather triggering spasms and falls.

People with SPS can be treated with immunoglobulin, which is made from plasma. The healthy donor antibodies help the immune system regulate and reduce the attacks on the body. Read more in Karen’s story.

Mrs Hinch’s son, Kawasaki disease

Social media influencer Sophie Hinchliffe has spoken openly about her son Ronnie’s recent diagnosis of Kawasaki disease, a condition that most often affects the heart arteries in children.Sophie Hinchliffe with her two young children

Sophie, famously known as ‘Mrs Hinch’, took to Instagram to reveal her family had spent 10 days in hospital while her son struggled with symptoms such as high temperature, swollen glands, swollen hands and feet, and red eyes.

Kawasaki disease is a condition usually diagnosed in young children. It causes the blood vessels to become inflamed and swollen, which can lead to heart complications. This can be fatal in some cases. Because of this, Kawasaki disease is one of the main causes of acquired heart disease in children under 5 in the UK.

Around 8 in every 100,000 children develop Kawasaki disease in the UK each year.

More than 500 children with Kawasaki disease needed plasma medicine last year. The healthy donor antibodies reduce the attacks and inflammation. Read more in Aurora’s story.

Sufjan Stevens, Guillain-Barré syndrome

Two images of Sufjan Stevens. On the left, he is performing on stage. On the right, he is taking a selfie in a medical setting.US musician Sufjan Steven recently took to Instagram to share his recent diagnosis of Guillain-Barré syndrome (GBS). Sufjan told his social media fans he was unable to walk while being hospitalised for two weeks.

Sufjan went on to say: “My hands, arms and legs were numb and tingling, I had no strength, no feeling and no mobility.”

Early symptoms of GBS usually develop over hours or days and tend to start in the feet and hands. Individuals may experience numbness, problems with balance and the sensation of pins and needles.

Symptoms may continue to get worse over the next few days, and some people may experience:

  • Blurred or double vision
  • Difficulty breathing
  • Difficulty passing urine, and constipation
  • Persistent and/or severe pain
  • Problems swallowing or chewing

The average Guillain-Barré patient in England needed plasma made from 56 donations to save or improve their life. Read more in Emma’s story.

One thing these diseases have in common is that donated plasma can be used to make medicines to help improve symptoms by preventing the immune system from destroying its own cells, drastically improving the lives of those who receive it and making their lives a lot more manageable. This is why we call plasma ‘the medicine in you’.

Your plasma could be used to treat 50 diseases – and it only takes around an hour to donate.

You can donate plasma in Birmingham, Reading or Twickenham.

You can find more information on plasma on our website.