20 Years Later - Thank You Plasma Donors
It was around this time 20 years ago that I was in the hospital in Irvine, CA. I was 14 years old, staying with a family friend while my parents were on their honeymoon. I just got the diagnosis of Common Variable Immune Deficiency. I was scheduled for my first infusion of Ig a few weeks later, but got sick and had to go to the E.R. where they invited me to stay for a few nights.
I remember my new doctor, an Immunologist - Dr. Gupta from UC Irvine, came to see me and explained everything that would happen. I had no clue what to expect or what this meant for me. I just moved to a new state, I was about to become a Freshman in high school, and all I knew is this should help me not get as sick.
It's funny; I can see Dr. Gupta standing in front of me with a few other white coats making sure I was ok. I could give you the layout of the room, but I don't remember anything else being significant. It all just became a part of my life, albeit an important role, but only a piece of a larger story to come.
Thankful for 2,600 Plasma Donations
According to the Plasma Protein Therapeutics Association, it can take up to 130 plasma donations to support one patient with a Primary Immunodeficiency, who is on Ig therapy, for one year. So, for me, that is 2,600 different plasma donations that I am forever grateful for as I look back.
It is hard to say if that is two people or 2,600 different individuals because you can donate plasma up to two times in seven days. To me, though, it does not matter, I am grateful for every person who walks in the door and chooses to donate plasma and help save a life.
I often wonder what their story is, like do they even know the impact they are having by donating plasma? Do they know that I have been able to go to college, get married, and start a family because of their selfless act? Things would not have been possible without them.
Mis-Conceptions of Plasma Donation
It is imperative to understand some of the misperceptions around plasma donation. See, you do not have to wait too long to see a story in a major media publication showing plasma donation in a negative light. Plasma donation differs from blood donation in that it can take up to 90 minutes to donate source plasma compared to donating blood. Think about that for me that means 234,000 minutes have been spent donating plasma so that I can live.
Due to the commitment it takes to be a loyal plasma donor, they are often compensated for their time. People love to point out that countries like Canada do not pay for plasma donation, but often they never include the next line needed to clarify that statement. Ready? Here it is...
"Countries who do not compensate plasma donors are not able to supply enough product for their patients. They import plasma medicines from the U.S., where donors are compensated."
As a husband, a dad, and a patient, let me give you my take, "I DON'T CARE THAT YOU COMPENSATE THEM!" I care that the plasma is safe and that the donation process is safe for the donors. That's it. Without donors, I cease to exist. Where is that story?
Chip On My Shoulder - My Responsibility
Graduating from college, I was looking at going into consulting when I had an opportunity to join a non-profit representing patients like me. I knew I had to take that opportunity. It was a chance to learn and to give back.
Since then, I have spent the last eight years of my career, bringing attention to different products and services that patients like you and me rely on every day. It has been eye-opening, to say the least, to sit in high-level meetings and provide a different perspective.
That is why Immune Competence was essential to me to start. I wanted a vehicle to provide a patient perspective. The life of a P.I. patient begins when they get that diagnosis. We have to help answer the question, now what.
For me, I plan to get louder on the importance of plasma donation. I want every plasma donor to know that what they are doing is essential. I want them to be as proud of donating plasma as I am of them. In the coming weeks, Immune Competence will be announcing a new campaign to help get louder on the importance of plasma donation.
I look forward to sharing it with you soon.
Share your plasma story with us! How many plasma donations has it taken to help save your life? What do you want to say to all the plasma donors that have helped you?