Plasma Power

Rare diseases and plasma donations: a ray of hope

Plasma Power

Rare diseases and plasma donations: a ray of hope

July 3, 2024

Plasma donation holds a pivotal role in treating rare diseases and most importantly improving countless lives. These conditions, affecting a small but significant portion of our population, pose meaningful challenges in diagnosis and treatment. The resulting health complications can be severe, and in some cases, life-threatening. However, there is hope.

In this article, we will discuss the safety and critical importance of plasma donation, its role in rare disease treatment, and the impactful difference you can make by donating.

Understanding rare diseases

Imagine living with a condition so rare that finding treatment feels like searching for a needle in a haystack. That is the reality for individuals affected by rare diseases, where each diagnosis is as unique as the person it impacts: fewer than 1 in 2,000 people are affected by these illnesses. 

The rarity of these diseases complicates research and treatment, leaving many to contend with significant health complications. However, the power of plasma donation is changing this narrative, offering new hope and possibilities for treatment.

Each year, on the last day of February, we observe Rare Disease Day to raise awareness about rare diseases and their impact on patients’ lives. This day is important to foster understanding and promoting the importance of plasma donations in treating these conditions.

pinpoints

The role of plasma in rare disease treatment

Plasma, the liquid component of blood, carries essential proteins and other substances that are necessary for your overall health. It is utilized to create plasma-derived therapies, which are specially designed to treat rare conditions by replenishing missing or deficient proteins in a patient’s blood.

These therapies are often the only option available and are crucial for restoring balance to the proteins in the blood, which is vital for maintaining good health. 

The list of plasma-derived therapies is extensive and continually evolving, highlighting the immense strategic value of plasma in medical treatment.

Rare diseases that benefit from plasma donations

Plasma donations play a vital role in treating a variety of rare diseases, particularly those affecting the immune system. Consider the life-changing impact of plasma-derived treatments for conditions like:

  • Hemophilia A and B, hereditary bleeding disorders, which are caused by a lack of two clotting factors;
  • Alpha-1 Antitrypsin Deficiency (AAT), one of the most common serious hereditary disorders in the world (affecting about 1 in 2,000 people) that can result in life-threatening lung and liver diseases;
  • Hereditary Angioedema, caused by a missing inhibitor protein that helps regulate inflammation;
  • Primary Immunodeficiency Disease (PID), a genetic condition that prevents an individual’s immune system from functioning properly;
  • Chronic Inflammatory Demyelinating Polyneuropathy (CIDP), a rare autoimmune disorder that affects the peripheral nervous system, causing weakness or even paralysis of the nerves in the arms and legs;
  • Idiopathic Thrombocytopenic Purpura (ITP), an autoimmune blood disorder that reduces blood platelet levels, essential for blood clotting;
  • Kawasaki Disease, a condition that is a leading cause of acquired heart disease and primarily affects children under the age of five.

The impact of plasma donation and advances in plasma therapy

The need for plasma donations has never been more critical. For instance, it takes 130 donations to treat one person with Primary Immunodeficiency Disease for a year. Conditions like Hemophilia require an average of 1,200 donations to treat a patient for a year. Your commitment to donating plasma can ensure a steady supply of life-saving therapies for those in dire need.

Recent advances in plasma therapy have improved treatment outcomes for rare disease patients. For instance, a new therapy, called subcutaneous immunoglobulin (SCIg) therapy, allows patients to administer immunoglobulin at home through a small needle under the skin. This therapy improves patients’ quality of life, as they no longer need to visit hospitals or clinics for regular intravenous immunoglobulin (IVIG) infusions.

How you can make a difference

Joining the ranks of plasma donors means stepping into a community of lifesavers. If you are considering donating, here is how you can start:

  • meet the plasma donation requirements: ensure you are in good health, over 18, and meet necessary weight and ID criteria
  • understand the process: plasma donation is a safe, clinical procedure that you can undergo regularly
  • see the impact: your plasma can treat numerous patients, significantly enhancing their quality of life

Plasma donation is a straightforward way to contribute to a greater cause. For more information or to address any concerns you might have, visit your nearest donation center. Your commitment can turn the tide for those who face the challenge of battling a rare disease daily.

FAQs

Do you still have doubts about plasma donation? Our FAQs section will hopefully clear them up. Remember that our medical team and staff is always there to answer all your question in person.