Over the past year, much has been written about the national blood supply shortage due to the COVID-19 pandemic. While blood donations are still needed more than ever, something that's less talked about — but equally important — is the critical need for plasma donations.
Plasma — the golden liquid that normally makes up 55% of a person's blood — is used to treat people with serious diseases and conditions, like burn injury survivors, people with rare immunodeficiencies and people with certain types of cancer. During the COVID-19 pandemic, the plasma supply decreased by more than 20%, and the need for plasma donors has never been greater.
Plasma donations are lifesaving for people like John Boyle, a husband and father in Maryland who was diagnosed with an immunodeficiency disease at just 6 months old.
Now 43, Boyle relies on plasma-derived therapies to treat his primary immunodeficiency disease, X-linked agammaglobulinemia (XLA). Boyle has received more than 1,000 plasma infusions with many more to come in his lifetime.
"My health is tied to people who are donating plasma," Boyle said.
He is one of the 125,000 Americans who rely on therapies made from plasma. These treatments can mean the difference between life and death.
"Your donation helps people like me live a normal life," Boyle said. "That's why we need everyday heroes to step up and donate plasma now."
Growing up in Maryland, Boyle was thankful to have lived near Johns Hopkins Hospital where he was able to receive the plasma treatments he needed from an early age. Today, he's living a happy and healthy life with his wife and son. Plasma treatments are a routine part of his life, with weekly infusions.
"It's almost like putting gas in the tank," he said. "It's a normal and routine, very important part of my life."
Over the years, Boyle has gotten to know the stories of many others who also rely on plasma donations.
"Being a part of this community, you get to meet and connect with really amazing people who have perspective on human resiliency," Boyle said. "Growing up, stories like mine fell through the cracks. So now I advocate for others with autoimmune disorders and encourage people to donate plasma."
Plasma replenishes itself in about 24 hours, enabling donors to give up to twice a week. In under two hours, your plasma can make a lasting impact by providing lifesaving medicine for those who need it, when they need it most.
Learn more about plasma donation and become a donor by finding a center near you.