ANNAPOLIS, Md., Sept. 1, 2011 /PRNewswire/ -- This month, Californians are recognizing "Plasma Protein Therapies Month," by raising awareness for the valuable contributions of plasma donors throughout the "Golden State" and for the rare, genetic diseases treated with the therapies that are made possible through plasma donation.
Plasma protein therapies, which include plasma-derived therapies and recombinant blood clotting factors (a biotechnology product), are used every day to treat people with bleeding disorders, such as hemophilia, that causes painful internal bleeding and debilitating joint damage; primary immunodeficiency diseases, which prevent a person from fighting off even common infections; and alpha-1 antitrypsin deficiency, also known as genetic chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), a disease that severely damages the liver and lungs. In addition, a plasma protein therapy, albumin, is used in critical care settings, when treating severe trauma, burns and during major surgery.
"There is no doubt the therapy has prolonged my life," said Karen Erickson from Thousand Oaks, Calif. Karen, a former triathlete, has been diagnosed with alpha-1 antitrypsin deficiency. Karen was told 10 years ago by her pulmonologist "we think we can get you a few years." The physician had heard of the rare disease, but had never seen a case first-hand. Karen self-infuses a plasma protein therapy weekly from home and uses inhalants and oxygen to manage her health daily to allow her to continue working and exercising despite a diminished lung capacity of 20 percent. While the damage to her lungs caused by the deficiency is irreversible, it is stemmed by regular infusions of her therapy. The therapy provides her body with the protein it needs and that her liver does not naturally produce. She is waiting for a lung transplant.
Plasma, a biological material that cannot be manufactured, is used to create lifesaving therapies that come solely from c