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Plasmavie – Sherbrooke
Collection of plasma to be used in manufacturing medication
- Creation : 2013, since 2016 in Sherbrooke
- Number of employees: 25
- Target Markets: Réseau québécois de la santé
Just think – an hour of your time could save the life of little Éli, three months of age, who has a serious heart disease, or that of Jean-François, a hockey player in his twenties, in remission from lymph node cancer. Each of them has received, or still receives, vital transfusions from blood plasma donations, donations given at Plasmavie centres like the one in Sherbrooke.
Open since January 2016, after an investment of $2.34 million, the Sherbrooke Plasma Donor Lounge is the third of its kind in Québec. Created by Héma-Québec, the Plasmavie banner specializes in the collection of plasma to be used in manufacturing medication.
Plasma contains dozens of proteins that are essential to life and to quality of life: immunoglobulins, clotting factors, albumin, etc. These proteins will be turned into medication for several hundreds of thousands of Quebecers. Some will receive a single dose; others will require a monthly dose for the rest of their lives.
Located at 3200 King St. W, in the new Le Baron complex, Plasmavie Sherbrooke has 12 donation beds in a setting that is both modern and cosy. Its goal is to collect 400 plasma donations per week.
“Just like a blood donation, a plasma donation is a vital gesture that takes a little over an hour of your time. It is our goal to make the experience as comfortable and efficient as possible so people can easily fit this deed into their everyday lives. Our strategic location on one of Sherbrooke’s major arteries was chosen for this reason – because it is easily and quickly accessible. What’s more, the apheresis collection procedure enables faster regeneration, and therefore permits one plasma donation per week,” noted Laurent Paul Ménard, Director of Public Relations at Héma-Québec.
With an annual operating budget of more than $2 million, Sherbrooke’s Plasma Donor Lounge employs 25 people.
To learn more about Plasmavie, we interviewed Laurent Paul Ménard.
What is blood plasma?
Plasma constitutes 55% of the volume of blood. It is the liquid part of blood, yellowish in colour, in which red blood cells, white blood cells, and platelets are suspended. Plasma resembles a subway system, transporting various cells and nutrients throughout the body. It is composed of 90% water and 10% various solutes, including plasma proteins – which is what Plasmavie is interested in.
The plasma proteins collected are used for what purpose?
Plasma contains more than 300 proteins, including immunoglobulins, albumin, and clotting factors. Once isolated and purified, these proteins are used to manufacture drugs that will be given to Québec patients. One of the protein families particularly in demand is immunoglobulins, i.e. antibodies for patients with deficient immune systems or certain blood cancers. One dose of immunoglobulin is made from the plasma of 5000 donors to maximize its effectiveness; thus the need for a vast and diverse donor pool. Another plasma protein, albumin, is used to treat certain liver diseases and serious burn victims. Clotting factors are administered to those with hemophilia, a hereditary disease preventing the blood from clotting properly.
Why did Héma-Québec create the Plasmavie banner in 2013?
First, it is important to make the distinction between fresh plasma given to patients by transfusion and plasma used in the manufacture of drugs. In the first instance, Québec meets all of its needs; however, this is far from the case for the plasma from which special formulas are made. In this second instance, Québec currently meets 18% of its needs for plasma with the 55 000 litres of plasma collected annually by Héma-Québec. We are dependent on plasma collected primarily in the United States for the remainder. To be able to meet the basic needs of Québec patients, the targeted collection amount must reach 30%, i.e. to more than 200 000 litres of plasma per year. The current situation was the inspiration for the Plasmavie initiative, which aims to boost Québec’s self-sufficiency in terms of plasma to be used in the manufacture of drugs. Since December 2013, three PLASMAVIE lounges have opened – in Trois-Rivières, Saguenay, and Sherbrooke – with a fourth opening scheduled in Gatineau for March 31, 2016. The opening of two other Plasmavie centres is planned between now and spring 2017, in the Québec City and Montréal regions.
Sherbrooke quickly became a priority city for the installation of a plasma collection centre. It is the sixth largest agglomeration in Québec and the regional centre of a vast area. Furthermore, the population of the greater Sherbrooke region is very active in terms of donating blood; last year, 12 783 donors took part in the 88 blood drives organized, enabling us to attain 100% of our goal! The Sherbrooke Plasmavie centre’s goal is to collect 20 000 donations per year, yielding a total of about 15 000 litres of plasma.
Where do the plasma donations obtained in Plasmavie centres go?
All of the plasma collected in Québec, in the three – soon to be four – Plasmavie lounges, is used solely for Québec patients, once it has been transformed. To make drugs from this plasma, vital proteins must be extracted from it. “Québec” plasma is consequently sent to fractionators abroad, some in Europe. That is where the proteins are isolated, incorporated into plasma preparations, and then returned to Héma-Québec, which subsequently delivers them to hospitals through the same distribution network used for blood.
There are plans for a first fractionator to be installed in Québec in 2018 – a North American first, which will provide the possibility of obtaining certain preparations made from human plasma from a local source.
The first donors at Plasmavie Sherbrooke:
Nadine Grenier, Yannick Gagnon and their daughter Justine
What does the plasma donation procedure involve?
All you have to do is to make an appointment whenever it is convenient for you, by calling 1-800-343-7264. Plasma donations may be made during the Lounge’s business hours, Monday to Saturday. The day of the donation, make sure to have eaten well and to have drunk at least 500 ml of water or juice. Upon arrival at the collection centre, you will be required to complete a socio-medical questionnaire, and, for your safety, our team will take a drop of your blood to check your hemoglobin (iron) count. The collection itself will last about 30 minutes, during which you will be comfortably seated in an armchair, under the supervision of a member of the blood collection staff. Once the donation has been made, you will be invited to have a snack in our lounge. The entire process takes about 70 minutes in all.
How is the collection done?
The technique used at Plasmavie is called apheresis; it enables plasma and nothing else to be collected. In concrete terms, the donor’s blood is sent, via a single-usage device, into a machine where it is centrifuged. The blood’s components are then separated into layers. At this point, the plasma can be extracted, and the other components returned to the donor. In the end, between 500 ml and 800 ml will have been collected, depending on the donor’s height and weight. This will correspond to less than 18% of the donor’s estimated blood volume.
Who can give plasma and how often?
Plasmavie seeks donors from every blood group, but donors from blood groups that are Rh positive (A+, B+, AB+, and O+) are especially sought. For safety reasons, certain restrictions apply, however. Please see the table online. Generally speaking, you must be 18 years of age or over and weigh at least 50 kg (110 lb).
Plasma is primarily composed of water, and the body will regenerate it within 24 to 72 hours. Hence, a plasma donation can be made every six days – whereas blood donations must be spaced 56 days apart.
Plasmavie – Sherbrooke
3200 King West Street, Sherbrooke (Québec) Canada J1L 1C9
1 800 343-7264
Photo credit: Héma-Québec
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