Stourbridge woman whose mum needs blood plasma urges more people to donate
A STOURBRIDGE woman inspired to donate plasma because her mum needed lifesaving treatment is supporting an NHS appeal for more donors.
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 area.
Stephanie, aged 37, of Pedmore, recently donated plasma for the first time at the donor centre in New Street in Birmingham.
Her mum Yvonne Green, aged 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, which 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.
Stephanie 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.”
She had never donated any form of blood before until she saw a plasma donor centre in New Street, Birmingham.
Stephanie and her sister Sarah booked in to donate. Sarah was not able to donate on the day but Stephanie, a senior admin worker, was able to make her first donation.
Sarah and Steph Turton at the plasma donor centre. Pic - NHS Blood and Transplant (Image: NHS Blood and Transplant)
She 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 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 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.
A spokesperson for NHS Blood and Transplant said: “Plasma is part of your blood. It contains antibodies which can help other people fight infections and disorders.
“At the moment, about 10 people a month try donating for the first time at the Birmingham centre but we need at least twice that many each month.
“We know plasma donation is new and not many people have heard of it but plasma donation saves lives."
To find out more about donating plasma visit website blood.co.uk/plasma