Stourbridge lady urges more people to start donating plasma

A woman inspired to donate plasma because her mum needed lifesaving treatment is supporting the NHS appeal for more donors in Wolverhampton and Birmingham.

Stephanie Turton’s mum has received medicine made from plasma which has helped her to live with cancer for 20 years.

NHS Blood and Transplant is only getting less than half the new plasma donors it needs each month in the West Midlands county.

Stephanie, known as Steph, aged 37, of Pedmore in Stourbridge, recently donated plasma for the first time at the donor centre in New Street in Birmingham.

Her mum Yvonne Green, 65, was diagnosed with small cell-lung cancer 20 years ago and given six weeks to live.

Today Yvonne receives immunoglobulin, a medicine made from plasma donations, every six weeks.

The medicine contains antibodies, part of the immune system. They help reduce the effects of her neuropathy – nerve damage from her own immune system mistakenly attacking her nerves.

Neuropathy can be caused by cancer or its treatment.

The antibodies in the donor medicine help Yvonne’s immune system to self-regulate and calm down. Steph said:

“Mum suffers very severe nerve pain. She struggles to walk. She can only pick things up if she is looking at them.

“The immunoglobulin relieves the pain and improves her co-ordination.”

Steph had never donated any form of blood before until she there is a plasma donor centre in New Street in Birmingham.

Steph and her sister Sarah booked in to donate. Sarah was not able to donate on the day but Steph was able to make her first donation. Steph, a senior admin worker, said:

“We wanted to give something back. We went down and it was smooth and painless.

“The whole visit was an hour which could save someone’s life, so I would 100 per cent say to other people ‘go for it’. There’s nothing to worry about.

“When you have that personal connection, it means that little more, but it’s nice to do anyway.

“I know that imported immunoglobulin treatment is expensive and that more donations will help the NHS with costs and availability.”

Immunoglobulin strengthens or stabilises the immune system. Supplies are under pressure around the world and plasma donation will bolster availability of the medicine in England. Around 1,300 people from West Midlands region receive immunoglobulin each year.  

England relied on imported immunoglobulin for more than 20 years as a precaution against vCJD but the Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency (MHRA) said last year that plasma from UK donors can again be used for immunoglobulin.

Birmingham is one of three places in England where plasma can be donated, alongside Twickenham and Reading. Plasma can also be recovered from normal blood donations, to provide another source of supply.

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