For people in Clark County who continue to fight against rare blood diseases like hemophilia, immune deficiencies, inherited respiratory disease and neurological disorders, finding ways to get relief and a possible cure is not easy. However, a potential means of care and treatment opened in Vancouver on Oct. 15 with the CSL Plasma Collection Center.
Human blood is made of both a cellular portion of white and red blood cells along with platelets, and the liquid portion, which is plasma. Plasma is necessary for a number of vital functions in controlling bleeding and infection control and it transfers key proteins and antibodies throughout the circulatory system.
CSL Plasma is a wholly-owned subsidiary of CSL Behring, based out of King of Prussia, PA, and the new facility is one of 82 in the United States and the first of its kind in Southwest Washington.
“This center is the part of our efforts to expand our operations both nationally and internationally,” said CSL Corporate Communications Manager Chris Florentz. “We recognize the growing need for plasma donations and availability for treatments for people across the country and we’re happy to be able to contribute to that cause.”
According to statistics provided by CSL Plasma, a disease is classified as “rare” if it affects less than 200,000 people. There’s approximately 6-7,000 diseases that fall under this category which impact an estimated 25-30 million people in the United States and more around the world. Most of those diseases are hereditary as well.
“The more we learn about these diseases and how to treat them using plasma therapies, it increases the need for donors to come into their local center to be screened and donate,” said Florentz. “The human body has over 2,000 proteins in it and at the moment we only know how about a dozen of them work, so the research is still growing every day.”
Florentz added the screening and donation process for plasma is more stringent than it is for being a regular blood donor.
“We take two plasma samples from each potential donor to be screened for any blood-based diseases or abnormalities because we need to make sure the plasma is clean before it can be used for a therapy,” said Florentz. “Once that is done, donors are given a full health exam and if that is OK, plasma donors can come in twice a week to donate, whereas whole blood donors can once every eight weeks.”
To donate, people are hooked up to a plasmapharesis machine, which separates the plasma from the cellular portion of the blood, which is returned to the body. The automated instrument used by CSL Plasma is approved by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA).
“Another aspect of plasma donation that differs from regular blood donations is it doesn’t come down to blood type,” said Florentz. “Everything is based on the proteins in the plasma, so we can take any donations so long as they meet the screening process.”
Another aspect of having the center open in the Clark County area is the economic impact it brings to the community.
“Because of the wages to our employees and compensation we offer to our donors, each center brings in about $5-6 million dollars annually,” said Florentz. “Right now, we have 32 employees in the facility and when we get it up and running at full capacity, we’ll have brought about 60 new jobs to the area.”
The donation process takes about 90 minutes to complete. Donors must be between the ages of 18-59, weigh at least 110 lbs., be in good health and have proper identification and meet residency requirements.
The CSL Plasma Center is located at 11803 SE Mill Plain Blvd., Suite 101 in Vancouver and are currently open Wed.-Sun., 10 a.m.-6 p.m., and will soon be open seven days a week, 7 a.m.-7 p.m.
More information is available online at www.cslplasma.com, or by calling (360) 597-2691.