South Asian people are being asked to donate plasma

South Asian people are being asked to donate plasma

It’s a new form of blood donation with donor centres in areas with large south Asian populations.  

Plasma makes up most of your blood and it contains antibodies which can fight infections in other people.  

Donation has only just restarted in the UK after 23 years. The donor centres in areas with significant south Asian populations include Manchester, Birmingham, Croydon, Newham, Bolton and Reading.

Asian people donated previously plasma in large numbers for coronavirus research and it is hoped they will also now donate plasma. The plasma is made into a medicine which saves the lives of people with immune disorders.  

Around 4% of people currently donating plasma are of Indian, Pakistani or Bangladeshi heritage. 

NHS Blood and Transplant has around 10,000 plasma donors but that is only enough to fill around 30% of plasma donation appointments. NHSBT needs 30,000 more people to become plasma donors in the next six months.  

Laraib Janjua, 28, from Northampton, received medicine made from plasma after developing myasthenia gravis.  

The disease is a chronic autoimmune disorder in which your own antibodies destroy the communication between nerves and muscle.  

“It started off by not being able to speak, and then I couldn’t eat, drink, chew, spit or swallow,” said Laraib.   

“I suffered from severe fatigue. I was unable to climb up a flight of stairs or walk for more than 10 minutes without being severely out of breath.”  

A few weeks later the disease had progressed so badly that she was admitted to hospital, choking and unable to breath.  

She received the medicine made from plasma, which calmed down her immune system and stopped it attacking her.  

Laraib said: “I never understood or quite frankly knew about plasma donation until I received it. I am beyond grateful for those who have donated and continued to do so, the immunoglobulin medicine has given me my life back.”

The ethnicity of the donor and recipient is not a factor in plasma donation, but there is a need to reach all communities living near donor centres, to help make sure there are enough donors.  

Dr Hector Chinoy, a Consultant Rheumatologist at Salford Royal, said: “We need plasma donors from every ethnicity to save lives. Many people of South Asian heritage live near the new plasma donor centres. The NHS had a fantastic response from Asian people donating plasma for coronavirus research and now we’d like to see the same for plasma donation for immunoglobulin medicine.   

“I donate plasma. I also regularly prescribe immunoglobulin for patients. It’s a powerful mix of donor antibodies made from plasma donations. For my patients, immunoglobulin works by stopping their immune system attacking their own body. It’s also used to fight infections. Around 17,000 people a year need these medicines but they can only come from donors – it’s a medicine in your blood that could be the only treatment which saves someone’s life.”   

The 11 new plasma donor centres are in Barnsley, Birmingham, Bolton, Bristol, Chelmsford, Croydon, Manchester, Reading, Stockton, Stratford, and Twickenham.     

Around 17,000 people receive immunoglobulins each year.    Plasma donation is similar to blood donation. In plasma donation, some of your blood is gradually run through a machine which separates out some of your plasma. Your red blood cells are returned to you, so you can carry on with your day as normal.   

Categories: Health