Plasma is the straw colored liquid portion of blood that remains after the red blood cells, platelets, and other components are taken out of blood. Plasma is actually the largest component of blood, at about 55%. Plasma is most commonly used in two ways: given directly to a recipient or used to create plasma-derived therapies.
Plasma-derived therapies are used by many individuals in the rare disease community. These therapies are used to replace missing or deficient proteins, which are needed to maintain an immune system. Typically, someone who is getting plasma-derived therapies is reliant on them for life, meaning they get it regularly for the rest of their life to ensure they stay healthy. So, who needs plasma and plasma derived therapies?
Source plasma is plasma collected from volunteers and used exclusively to make plasma derived therapies. Once the plasma derived therapies are created, they are used by rare disease patients. Here are the types of plasma derived therapies and the who uses them:
Alpha-1 Antitrypsin Deficiency: A serious hereditary disorder which can result in life-threatening liver disease in children and adults and lung disease in adults.
Primary Immunodeﬁciency Diseases: A group of more than 400 rare, chronic disorders in which part of the body’s immune system is missing or functions improperly.
Idiopathic Thrombocytpenic Purpura (ITP): An autoimmune blood disorder that results in reduced blood platelet levels, essential for blood clotting.
Guillain-Barre Syndrome (GBS)/Chronic Inflammatory Demyelinating Polyneuropathy (CIDP): A a rare disorder in which your body's immune system attacks your nerves.
Kawasaki Disease: A condition that primarily affects children under the age of five and causes inflammation (swelling and redness) in blood vessels throughout the body.
Secondary Antibody Deﬁciencies (Cancer): A significant decrease in antibodies in the body.
Multisystem Inflammatory System in Children (MIS-C): A condition where different body parts can become inflamed, including the heart, lungs, kidneys, brain, skin, eyes, or gastrointestinal organs.
Hereditary Angioedema: Caused by a missing C1 esterase inhibitor protein (C1-INH), which helps regulate inflammation.
Hemophilia: A condition in which the ability of the blood to clot is severely reduced, causing the sufferer to bleed severely from even a slight injury.
Von Willebrand Disease: A a genetic disorder caused by missing or defective von Willebrand factor that causes excessive bleeding.
Certain Liver Conditions
Convalescent plasma is collected from patients who have recovered from a virus and then used to help other patients and high risk individuals develop antibodies in the blood against the virus. The plasma is collected from volunteers and then used as a single donor transfusion or manufactured in to hyperimmune Ig (which is pooled from multiple donors, processed and standardized) and given to high risk individuals and other patients. The patient who receives the convalescent plasma gets a massive boost to their adaptive immune system, which provides passive immunity against the virus.
Convalescent plasma collection is gaining in momentum at the moment due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Even celebrities such as Tom Hanks and Bryan Cranston have given convalescent plasma after recovering from coronavirus.
Interested in becoming a plasma donor and helping out one of the rare disease communities or COVID-19 patients as listed above? To find a donation center near you, visit: www.plasmahero.org.
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