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Patient who depends on NHS plasma treatment thanks Southwark donor for helping to ‘save her life’

A woman whose life has been saved by antibody medicine left NHS staff in tears when she met a donor from Southwark.

Simone Simon, 54, has a genetic condition that means her body is unable to fight infections. Her immune system relies on medicine made from donated plasma, which she describes as ‘liquid gold’.

Plasma is the liquid that makes up most of a person’s blood. It carries antibodies to fight pathogens. 

The antibodies in donated plasma are separated by a machine and then concentrated into medicines. The donation process takes around an hour.

At her visit to Stratford donor centre she personally thanked  Albert Mensah, 24, a final year medical student from Southwark, who has now made nineteen plasma donations.

“People like Albert mean the world to me,” Simone said. “It’s really opened my eyes to understand how people are so willing to give up their time and help save my life.” 

Albert donating plasma (c) Kirsty Hamilton Photography / NHS Blood & Transplant

An emotional Albert said in response: “That’s so wonderful to hear. Honestly, that is amazing…I have always said to friends who ask me why I do this. 

“If I can just do this for an hour max, imagine how much time that will give somebody else.” 

Session Sister Lorna Philips said: “To see Simone come in today; she said was so emotional, so thankful, so grateful. I am so happy to see we are helping someone.” 

Simone’s illness, cystic fibrosis transmembrane regulator disorder, leaves her particularly vulnerable to lung infections.

Mucus collects in her lungs, leaving her at risk of serious chest infections and complications.  

During the coronavirus pandemic Simone was hospitalised, after going fourteen weeks without treatment during the national lockdown.

 

Plasma donations from the UK were banned in 1998 after vCJD – ‘mad cow disease’ fears, a restriction lifted by the government this year. 

NHS Blood and Transplant is now hoping to make the UK self-sufficient in plasma medicines due to global supply shortages.

Donations from this year will reach hospitals in 2022. There are eleven plasma donation centres around the country.

To sign up visit www.blood.co.uk/plasma or call 0300 123 23 23.

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