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BSI response to start of UK blood plasma donations for immunoglobulin treatments

Update August 2021

NHS Blood and Transplant are now recruiting people to donate plasma which will be used to manufacture immunoglobulins that will provide vital treatments for people with cancers, rare diseases, immune disorders and genetic conditions. You can find out more about how to donate your plasma on the NHSBT website

7 April 2021

Today, NHS Blood and Transplant (NHSBT) has announced that people in the UK will be able to donate their blood plasma for use in the manufacture of life-saving medicines called immunoglobulins. Immunoglobulins are antibodies that come from blood plasma and are used to treat people who are very immunosuppressed – for example people with antibody deficiencies or those on long-term cancer treatment. 

The British Society for Immunology has previously worked on this issue with a coalition of partners in a group called UK Plasma Action. This will be the first time in 20 years that people in the UK have been able to donate their plasma for the manufacture of immunoglobulin therapies. This move to allow people in the UK to donate their plasma for this use represents a huge step forward as it will mean a more secure supply of these vital therapies for patients to allow them to stay well and healthy. 

In response to this news, the BSI released the following statement:

Dr Matthew Buckland, British Society for Immunology spokesperson and Consultant Immunologist at Great Ormond Street Hospital and Barts Health NHS Trusts, said:

“Plasma products, such as immunoglobulins, are life-saving for patients with conditions that affect the functioning of their immune system.  To make these therapies, we rely on the generosity of donors to provide a supply of plasma.  There has been a recent increase in global demand for these products, so this new NHSBT programme to enable people in the UK to donate their plasma is hugely welcome. 

“It will boost capacity to provide a more sustainable supply of these essential medicines, enabling patients to live their lives without worry about the availability of treatment. Please do consider donating your plasma through the NHSBT programme – your donation will make a world of difference to the patients I treat and allow them to stay well and healthy.”

You can read the full announcement from NHS Blood and Transplant here.  Several thousand donors will initially be recruited from the existing NHSBT blood donor base, with open recruitment will be introduced in the future. To find out more about blood plasma donation, you can call NHSBT on 0300 123 23 23.