Health

Blood donors will now help to make plasma to boost supplies of medicine that treats immune diseases

Blood donors will now help to make plasma to boost supplies of medicine that treats rare immune diseases

  • Eventually around 250,000 litres of plasma from around one million blood donations each year will be used to make a medicine
  • NHS Blood and Transplant said the plasma will bolster supplies of the medicine which it said is facing supply pressures made worse by Covid-19
  • Until now, UK had been relying solely on imports of immunoglobulin medicine 


Blood donors in England are now able to give a little extra help as their contributions will be used to make lifesaving plasma medicine.

The first blood donations to be used in this way will be taken from today – with the approach being rolled out across England over several months.

Eventually around 250,000 litres of plasma from around one million blood donations each year will be used to make a medicine which treats rare immune diseases. 

Eventually around 250,000 litres of plasma from around one million blood donations each year will be used to make a medicine which treats rare immune diseases. Pictured: A woman in donates plasma at the Oklahoma Blood institute in the U.S.

NHS Blood and Transplant said the plasma will bolster supplies of the medicine – known as immunoglobulin – which it said is facing supply pressures made worse by Covid-19.

Until now the UK had been relying solely on imports of immunoglobulin medicine which are received by around 17,000 people every year – many of whom are clinically vulnerable people who have been shielding during the pandemic.

Specific donations of blood plasma began back in April but from Tuesday the first of England’s 770,000 blood donors will begin their contributions.

Pictured: A doctor holds a donation of convalescent plasma

Pictured: A doctor holds a donation of convalescent plasma

The first such donations are due to be taken at Norfolk House Blood Donor Centre, in Manchester, and by mobile blood donation teams covering Liverpool, Taunton and Bath.

Gerry Gogarty, who led this project at NHSBT, said: ‘Your blood is mostly made up of plasma and it contains the antibodies which fight infections. Those antibodies can save the lives of people with faulty immune systems.

‘By recovering plasma… each generous blood donation will go even further in helping to save lives.’

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