Hundreds of people have donated blood plasma in Twickenham after a 20-year ban was lifted earlier this year.

The NHS said that "more than 500" people had donated blood plasma at the Twickenham centre since donations restarted earlier this month (April 7) and urged more to join them.

The ban on using donated blood plasma was put in place at the height of concerns over the vCJD variant of BSE or 'mad cow disease' in 1998, but it was lifted by the Department of Health and Social Care in February after the independent Commission on Human Medicines (CHM) advised blood plasma donations and use as safe.

NHS authorities in Twickenham, which hosts one of the just 14 centres where the donations are now taking place, urged people to consider donating blood plasma as with regular blood donations and help the NHS save lives.

"Like blood donation, plasma donation will be altruistic, for the benefit of the NHS and we’re here ready to collect it," Henry Jarvis, Twickenham Plasma Donor Centre manager, said

"We’re asking people, if contacted by us, please donate plasma for medicines – you will save and transform lives," he added.

Blood plasma donations are vital for healthcare professionals because the plasma can be used to make antibody-based medicines – called immunoglobulins - for people with rare immune diseases.

According to the NHS, thousands of patients rely on immunoglobulin medicines for short-term or lifelong diseases and genetic disorders, and around 950 of these patients are on West London patient panels.

Antibody medicines made with blood plasma are used to treat people with weak immune systems and a variety of other rare disorders. Illnesses include:

  • Immune disorders such as Common Variable Immune Deficiency.
  • Neurological disorders such as Guillain–Barre syndrome and myasthenia gravis.
  • Haematological disorders such as cytopenia - a low mature red blood cell count, which can occur following radiotherapy and chemotherapy for cancer treatment.
  • Dermatological disorders such as Kawasaki syndrome and toxic epidermal necrolysis.

When people donate, the plasma is filtered out of circulating blood by an apheresis machine and the red blood cells are returned to the donor.

Click here for more information and how to donate.