NHS BLOOD and Transplant marked Rare Disease Day with an appeal for people to donate at Birmingham plasma donor centre.
The team is calling for more people to start donating plasma, to build stocks as a fifth of plasma appointments are being filled at the centre in New Street.
Many of the rare diseases highlighted on February 28 are treated with a medicine made from plasma donations called immunoglobulin.
The antibodies in these medicines can protect people from infection or they can stabilise the immune system if it’s attacking the patient’s own body.
Rare Disease Day is an annual event organised by EURORDIS, an alliance of nearly 1,000 patient groups across Europe.
In the last recorded year, 1,269 people from the West Midlands region received medicines made from plasma last year for a range of rare diseases.
Examples of rare diseases that may need plasma medicine treatment include genetic disorders, autoimmune disorders and Neonatal alloimmune thrombocytopenia where antibodies from the mother cross the umbilical cord and attack her baby’s platelets, increasing the risk of severe bleeding.
Lee Wright, NHSBT’s Plasma Donor Centres area manager, said: “Many people have never heard of plasma donation or immunoglobulin medicine, but for the people who need it, it’s a lifesaver, and in many cases no other treatment is available.
“We’re so pleased to be collecting plasma again after more than 20 years however donation levels are low because few people have heard of it.”
Plasma can be donated at one of three dedicated plasma centres, Birmingham, Reading and Twickenham.
To donate plasma in Birmingham, call 0300 123 23 23 or click here.