Barbara Napier, a 33-year-old mother of three, spends her days taking care of others, both at home and at her job in an emergency room (ER). For her, the transition from saving lives in the ER to saving lives by donating plasma was easy, especially after her son was diagnosed with Evans syndrome in 2021.
“My son is battling an extremely rare disease. His body is attacking itself,” said Napier.
Evans syndrome is an ultra-rare autoimmune disorder in which the immune system destroys the body’s blood cells. It’s a combination of at least two of the following disorders: autoimmune hemolytic anemia (AIHA; autoantibodies attack red blood cells), immune thrombocytopenia (ITP; autoantibodies attack platelets), or autoimmune neutropenia (AIN; autoantibodies attack neutrophils, a type of white blood cell). The Genetic and Rare Diseases Information Center (GARD) estimates that fewer than 5,000 people in the U.S. have Evans syndrome.
The exact cause of Evans syndrome is unknown, and the exact symptoms that indicate Evans syndrome vary from person to person, along with the combination of the three conditions involved (AIHA, ITP, and AIN).
For example, when red blood cells are attacked and are low, symptoms may include:
When experiencing low platelet levels, symptoms may include:
When neutrophils are low, symptoms may include:
There is no one test to diagnose Evans syndrome. Instead, medical professionals conduct various tests to rule out other conditions. The tests include:
There is also no cure for Evans syndrome. Treatments are directed towards specific symptoms and personalized for each individual case. One treatment often used to help those with Evans syndrome is intravenous immunoglobulin (IVIG) replacement therapy, which Napier’s now 8-year-old son receives two to three times a month. Immunoglobulin is created using donated plasma, and since there is no synthetic substitute for plasma, those with Evans syndrome who rely on IVIG depend on plasma donors.
“My son has taught me a lot about life with everything he has gone through. He’s a fighter!” Napier said.
Napier was donating plasma even before her son’s serious diagnosis. As someone who works in the emergency room at a local hospital, she understands how beneficial plasma can be in saving someone’s life.
“My experiences [donating plasma] have been smooth and painless. They are quick and very rewarding,” says Napier. She plans to continue donating plasma and encourages others to do the same.
Feeling inspired by Napier’s story? You, too, can help save lives by becoming a Plasma Hero! Submit your story to us and be featured as one of our Plasma Heroes.
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Due to changes in U.S. border policy, Luis is no longer able to donate plasma in in the U.S.
Due to changes in U.S. border policy, Edgar is no longer able to donate plasma in in the U.S.
Due to changes in U.S. border policy, they no longer able to donate plasma in in the U.S.
“It felt so good to be able to give the gift of life!”
“Plasma has given me an opportunity to live again.”
“I have had a full circle relationship with plasma and have realized the value it holds.”
“Not only am I now a regular plasma donor, we also want to raise as much awareness around the need for plasma donations and get as many donors through the door as possible.”
“I’m still alive today thanks to IVIG.”
“Without plasma, I would not have a quality life.”