A woman saved by antibody medicine left NHS staff and donors in tears when she visited a plasma donor centre.
Simone Simon thanked staff and a frequent donor during a visit filmed for video to encourage more people to donate.
The 54-year-old from Harrow said plasma is the ‘liquid gold’ that helps her fight potentially life threatening infections.
Simone has a genetic disorder which means her body cannot fight infections.
She relies on donated plasma, which contains antibodies that fight the infections for her.
Plasma donation only restarted this year after a break of more than 20 years and the NHS is now calling for more than 1,000 donations a week.
Simone won a round of applause when she shared her story with staff at Stratford plasma donor centre.
She told staff: “I rely on all of you to take that plasma to save my life and I am so thankful to you I can’t even begin to put it into words.”
Her visit was filmed by NHS Blood and Transplant for a new video to raise awareness of plasma donation.
As her team wiped away tears, 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 also personally thanked donor Albert Mensah, 24, a final year medical student from Southwark, who has now made 19th plasma donations at the Tooting and Stratford donor centres.
She brought an empty bottle of her plasma medicine and said it was the “liquid gold” she receives every three weeks, later adding: “People like Albert mean the world to me. It’s really opened my eyes to understand how people are so willing to give up their time and help save my life.”
An emotional Albert replied: “It’s so good to see you. That’s so wonderful to hear. Honestly, that is amazing.”
He also said: “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.”
Simone’s illness leaves her particularly vulnerable to lung infections. She has a cystic fibrosis transmembrane regulator disorder. Mucus collects in her lungs, leaving her at risk of serious chest infections and complications.
During the coronavirus pandemic Simone was hospitalised, after going 14 weeks without treatment because of the hospital going on lockdown.
Plasma donation takes around an hour. The donor’s blood is gradually run through a machine which separates out the plasma, before returning the blood back into the donor.
Plasma is the liquid that makes up most of your blood. It carries your antibodies around you to fight pathogens. The antibodies in donated plasma are separated out and concentrated into medicines.
A restriction on using medicines made from the plasma of UK donors was introduced in 1998, as one of the vCJD safety measures. This was lifted by the Government this year, following expert advice. Taking donations will help make UK more self-sufficient in the plasma medicines, in the face of global supply pressures. Donations being taken now will reach hospitals from 2022 onwards.
Plasma is being collected at 11 centres around the country.
• Anyone interested in donating plasma can visit www.blood.co.uk/plasma or call 0300 123 23 23.