Croydon locals are being urged to donate plasma, a vital component in immune-stabilizing medicines for people with life-threatening conditions.
Croydon’s Plasma Donor Centre in Centrale Shopping Centre is appealing for more donors as their facilities are only 24 per cent full each day, with around 180 appointments going empty every week.
The NHS has launched a series of adverts across social media and public spaces in Croydon as part of a sustained six-month campaign to drive up donor numbers.
Christina Leaver, manager of Croydon’s Plasma Donor Centre, said: “In the next few months, we need thousands more people to start donating at our donor centre. Since donation restarted we’ve had many fantastic people come in to donate but we still see too many empty chairs every day.”
This is due to mounting concerns over the UK’s dependence on internationally imported blood plasma medicines like immunoglobulin. While the pandemic has not affected plasma donation levels in the UK, it did affect donation levels in the USA, which continues to be the source of the majority of the UK’s immunoglobulin.
Plasma donations only restarted in England in April 2021, after a break of 23 years due to precautions for vCJD, commonly known as “mad cow disease”. Plasma from UK donors are now deemed safe to use by the independent Commission on Human Medicines.
The number of donors is far behind the target at 11 new NHS Blood and Transplant (NHSBT) plasma donor centres – in Barnsley, Birmingham, Bolton, Bristol, Chelmsford, Croydon, Manchester, Reading, Stockton, Stratford, and Twickenham.
What is plasma?
Plasma is the largest single component of blood, and makes up about 55 per cent of total blood volume.
The straw-coloured liquid, which carries platelets, red and white blood cells around the body, is used to make medicines full of donor antibodies which fight bacterial and viral infections.
This medicine, known as immunoglobulin, is used to strengthen or stabilise the immune systems of people with cancers, rare diseases, immune disorders and genetic conditions.
Around 1,100 people in South London received immunoglobulins last year.
How do I donate?
Plasma donation is similar to blood donation, albeit your blood is gradually run through a machine which separates out a fraction of plasma. Your red blood cells are then returned to your body. The process takes around 45 minutes from start to finish.
Leaver said: “Plasma donation is safe and easy, it doesn’t take long, and you will help save and improve the lives of some of the most vulnerable people in the country.”
To start donating plasma, call 0300 123 23 23, search ‘donate plasma’ or visit www.blood.co.uk/plasma.