“If he caught anything, it could have been fatal”
Jensen Shettler needs medicine made from donated plasma for a disorder that the NHS estimates affects 1 in a million men and boys.
Eight-year-old Jensen has a rare immune condition, XLP1, that can cause inflammation when the white blood cells become overactive as well as a low antibody count.
The disorder also increases the risk of developing lymphoma, something which Jensen’s mum, Beverley, worries about. At just 3 years old, Jensen was diagnosed with non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma, a type of cancer that affects the lymphatic system. He went through a second bout 4 years later, aged 7.
“Something didn’t seem quite right,” says Beverley. “It wasn’t relapse.”
More tests were carried out and, in February 2022, Jensen was diagnosed with XLP1. He was put a medicine made from donated plasma straight away.
The medicine helped to strengthen his immune system until he received a stem cell transplant
Plasma medicines save and transform the lives of thousands of people, like Jensen, every year. The antibodies in plasma are made into medicines to help people with rare diseases, immune disorders, and genetic conditions.
“The medicine helped to strengthen his immune system until he received a stem cell transplant. The transplant gave him a new immune system and protected him against future bouts.
“I believe the medicine really helped him heading towards and all through the transplant. It made sure he had some extra antibodies whilst his immune system was regenerating.”
Plasma medicines can treat over 50 different conditions and the demand for plasma is growing. Over 17,000 people in England each year rely on plasma medicines.
(Picture: Jensen after being treated with plasma medicine)
“Plasma donors are helping to save lives, just like blood donors,” says Beverley. “In my eyes, it has certainly helped Jensen – it has given his immune system a boost.
“If he had caught anything with a weak immune system, it could have been fatal.
“I would say to blood, stem cell, platelet and plasma donors – thanks for saving his life.”
Giving plasma is simple - as easy as donating blood - and takes around an hour, with the donation itself only taking around 35 minutes.
You can give plasma at donor centres in Birmingham, Reading and Twickenham.