Plasma Donations Help Save Lives 

by Miguel Rodriguez

Many people are surprised to learn that plasma — the clear, straw-colored liquid portion of blood — is a lifeline for thousands of people with rare, chronic and complex diseases. There is an urgent need for human plasma across the nation, including right here in Arizona. That is why I am excited to share that BioLife Plasma Services, part of the global biopharmaceutical company Takeda, opened a new plasma collection center in Avondale, the fifth center to open in Greater Phoenix.

Because plasma cannot be produced in a lab, those who rely on medications developed from plasma are dependent on people regularly donating their plasma, in order to receive continuous care. On average, hundreds to more than a thousand donations are needed to provide enough therapy for one patient over the course of one year. Because of the growing need for these medications, Takeda has a dedicated plasma business unit with an expert research and development team and a global network of manufacturing facilities with growth capacity.

Through a simple, low-risk process called plasmapheresis, plasma is separated from the blood and the blood elements are returned back into the donor’s body. Once the plasma is donated, it is processed into a wide variety of life-saving therapies for people around the world with diseases such as immune deficiencies, hemophilia and hereditary angioedema. Takeda and BioLife continue to look at ways to modernize the plasma donation experience, making it more efficient and mobile-friendly for our donors. We’re also looking at ways to optimize the plasma donation process to increase plasma supply and plasma-based therapy manufacturing capacity. 

The Avondale center joins a growing network of more than 130 state-of-the-art plasma collection centers in the United States. As the demand for plasma-based therapies increases, BioLife is expanding throughout the U.S. to help meet the resulting need for plasma donations. BioLife looks for geographical regions with a large population where it doesn’t already have a presence, real estate availability, and the necessary numbers of skilled staff nearby. It’s important to us to invest in each of these communities, and we anticipate that our new center will contribute $2–3 million annually back to the Avondale community through donor compensation. We’ve also hired approximately 50 individuals locally.

In the few months I have lived in Phoenix, I have quickly seen firsthand how our community bands together for people in need. The more plasma we can collect, the more therapies we can potentially provide to those who rely on them.

Our donors can take comfort in knowing that, due to the global pandemic, BioLife has implemented additional screening and safety measures in line with public health guidance to help guarantee the safety and health of all donors and employees.  

Miguel Rodriguez, center manager of BioLife Avondale.

Did You Know: Plasma — which relies on donors because it cannot be produced in a lab — is processed into a wide variety of life-saving therapies for people around the world with diseases such as immune deficiencies, hemophilia and hereditary angioedema.

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