Milton Keynes woman with almost no immune system welcomes restart of plasma donation scheme

Kate needs regular medication to prevent constant infections

Wednesday, 21st July 2021, 4:37 pm

An woman who has virtually no immune system of her own has welcomed news that plasma donation has restarted in England

Kate Palmer, 41, from Stony Stratford, lacks the antibodies needed to fight off infections and without special medication she is constantly ill.

Before diagnosis, she was always getting long lasting chest and ear infections – at one stage developing pneumonia. She also has sarcoidosis, where inflamed tissue develops in organs, which can be caused by immune system problems. She was left with a reduced lung capacity.

Kate Palmer

Following two nasty bouts of shingles - a painful nerve and skin infection - blood tests revealed Kate had almost no immune system.

She was diagnosed with a Common Variable Immune Deficiency (CVID) – the underlying illness which had made her susceptible to illness over many years.

NHS Blood and Transplant is today launching a campaign for plasma donors. Plasma donation only restarted this year after a gap of more than 20 years and few people know what plasma donation is.

An NHSBT survey shows only 23% of the public know about it.

A plasma donation

Kate, a tea buyer, said: “Being sick became my normal. I was used to excusing myself from meetings as I was coughing so much it would make me physically sick.”

“Taking the immunoglobulin has really improved my life, it’s made a huge difference. I am grateful plasma donation has restarted in England.”

 There was a ban on using plasma from UK donors for these medicines from 1998 to February 2021, as a vCJD safety precaution. The independent experts of the MHRA concluded it could safely be restarted. 

 Donated plasma is made into antibody medicines known as immunoglobulins, which are used to save the lives of people with immune disorders. Around 17,000 people a year receive these medicines. 

People can support the campaign by sharing the news with friends and family who live near the 11 new plasma donor centres.  The nearest donor centre to Stony Stratford is in Twickenham, though the network may expand in future years.

An NHS Blood and Transplant spokesperson said: “We thank Kate for supporting this campaign and we hope more people will come to understand the lifesaving power of plasma donation.”