October 7, 2016
By Daniel Ferris
Every autumn the plasma protein therapeutics industry recognizes the lifesaving contributions of plasma donors during International Plasma Awareness Week (IPAW).
At CSL Behring and CSL Plasma, we appreciate the critical role donors play in ensuring a reliable and secure source of human plasma as worldwide demand continues to rise. We value their donations not just during IPAW (October 9-15), but year-round.
This is because plasma-derived therapies are crucial for patients’ well-being and health, and an appropriate supply of products is absolutely essential and depends on a sufficient supply of collected plasma.
While it can take more than 1,000 plasma donations to treat one adult patient for a year, the current collection system allows for an appropriate supply of product.
It can take more than 1,000 plasma donations to treat one adult patient for a year.
Just how important are plasma donors? Ask the people who are most affected, people like Barb Roberts, who said that in reflecting upon living with a rare immune deficiency, “It is humbling to realize the profound importance of plasma donors. Their willingness to give of their time as well as donating their life-saving plasma is so generous.
“Today, I am able to continue my career as an educational consultant, which once was threatened by recurrent infections. My three-year-old grandson exhibits such trust and innocence in the world around him. Plasma donors not only allow me to spend time with him, they also give me a heartfelt sense of hope and trust.”
Patients like Barb Roberts bring home the reality of why plasma donations are so important, and why the small token of gratitude donors receive for their time is a non-issue. Donating plasma can take up to 90 minutes or more, not including travel time to a collection center. Jenny Gardner, who also has an immune deficiency, expressed her feelings thusly.
“In the appeals process I was told it was cheaper to let me die than treat me. I was shocked.”
“One of the most emotional things I am fortunate to do is look in the eyes of a donor or plasma center employee and say ‘thank you’. Those two words are certainly not adequate for all they do, but I hope they know they are literally saving lives. I am eternally grateful to all of you that make my life possible.
“I have been sick all of my life,” Jenny continues, “but I was not diagnosed until I was 42. I missed a lot of school and one particular year I missed so much school that my parents were investigated. In my adult years I worked in banking. In the last years I was a vice president. Again, I missed a lot of days and it came to a point where I could not continue on with my career.”
Jenny says she went on disability and in 2006 her secondary insurance was cancelled. “In the appeals process I was told it was cheaper to let me die than treat me. I was shocked. That started me down a path of doing things I never thought I could. I have advocated over the years for better access to health care and today I am healthier than I have ever been.”
In the powerful words of Barb and Jenny, this is why plasma donors are heroes. And this is why 100 years after we first promised to protect the health of people living with rare and serious medical conditions, CSL Behring and CSL Plasma remain committed to ensuring a safe, uninterrupted supply of plasma so that people like Barb and Jenny can live full, healthy lives.
Daniel Ferris is CSL Plasma’s Vice President of Operations.