On Wednesday, March 20th, Immunodeficiency UK played a key role in a momentous event at the House of Commons – The Plasma Parliamentary Reception. This event, sponsored by MP Munira Wilson, brought together Members of Parliament, healthcare professionals, and patients to discuss the critical importance of plasma donation in the UK.

Huge thanks to the team at NHS Blood and Transplant for hosting and MP Munira Wilson for sponsoring the event. The event attracted 50 MPs and we are truly thankful to the MPs Iain Duncan-Smith, Daisy Cooper, Virendra Sharma, Dr Liam Fox, Amanda Sollaway, among many others, for coming along to find out more.

Shining a light on life-saving plasma

The reception served as a platform to raise awareness about the life-changing impact of plasma donations. Plasma, a component of blood, contains antibodies that are vital in the fight against infections and diseases. For many people with primary or secondary immunodeficiency, immunoglobulin therapy derived from plasma donations is essential for their quality of life and survival.

Immunodeficiency UK: A vocal advocate

Immunodeficiency UK, alongside charity Societi – UK Kawasaki Disease Foundation, actively participated in discussions highlighting the growing need for plasma donors in the UK. The number of people requiring immunoglobulin treatment has risen by 31% in the past five years, emphasising the urgency of establishing a self-sufficient domestic supply.

Susan, our CEO, and Margaret, a patient representative affected by the primary immunodeficiency CVID, shared a platform at the event and discussed the impact of immunoglobulin shortages on patients’ health and well-being and the difference that collection of plasma in the UK would bring.

Margaret said ‘It is very reassuring to know that plasma is being donated in the UK to produce our own immunoglobulins. It is vital that publicity is given to this, to ensure that more people come forward to donate, Help keep me and others like me, well.’  She asked MPs to learn more about plasma, support plasma donation campaigns and give plasma.

Susan told the MPS that ‘Plasma is a precious commodity and it’s vital to raise awareness of the importance of human plasma among parliamentarians. Over 7,000 people in the UK with antibody deficiency, depend on immunoglobulin therapy, which is made from human plasma, to help keep them free from infections. Demand for plasma is outstripping supply worldwide and collecting UK plasma will help prevent immunoglobulin therapy shortages and build resilience and stability of supply so that there is continuity of care for people affected by immunodeficiency.’

The road to better self-sufficiency

Previously, the UK relied solely on imported immunoglobulin medications. However, in 2021, plasma donation restarted, marking a significant step towards achieving some self-sufficiency. The Plasma for Medicines programme aims to create a long-term, secure supply of plasma-derived medicines within the UK.

Key Takeaways from the Event

  • Plasma donation is a safe and easy way to save lives.
  • The UK is actively working towards increasing self-sufficiency in plasma-derived medicines.
  • Raising public awareness is crucial to encourage more people to become plasma donors.

Immunodeficiency UK is committed to advocating for policies that ensure a sustainable and resilient supply of immunoglobulin to people who rely on the life-saving medicine immunoglobulin, which is made from plasma.  If you are interested in learning more about plasma donation or how you can get involved, please visit the NHS Blood and Transplant website.

Posted March 2024