THE mother of a girl who has defied death and received dozens of blood transfusions has welcomed the reintroduction of blood plasma donations.

Donations of blood plasma in England for use in the manufacture of “lifesaving” medicines are to begin after the lifting of a ban lasting more than two decades.

For an initial three months, donations will be taken at 14 centres across the country - including one in Chelmsford.

These will be used to make antibody-based medicines for people with rare immune diseases.

It comes after the Government lifted a ban in February which was imposed on UK donors in 1998 amid concerns about the spread of a human variant of bovine spongiform encephalopathy, known as Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease.

One family who appreciates the selfless act of donating blood are the Sadlers from Highwoods, in Colchester.

Seven-year-old Erin Sadler has immune thrombocytopenia which means her immune system destroys her platelets, stopping her blood from clotting.

Immunoglobulin medicines support her immune system to regulate itself to slow the damage.

Erin, who is under the care of Great Ormond Street Hospital, has a variety of other life-limiting conditions and is very ill with heart failure.

But her mother Helen said: “She is a tornado of energy – she is cheeky and full of life. She loves dancing and singing. She is vulnerable, but she keeps going.

“I am so glad there are plasma and blood donors because I would have lost my little girl a long time ago without their selfless act of donation.”

Erin receives around-the-clock care from her loving mum Helen, who has had to tighten restrictions on her day-to-day life even further in light of the coronavirus pandemic.

NHS Blood and Transplant (NHSBT) said 17,000 people needed immunoglobin therapy in 2018/19 for diseases and genetic disorders.

These included immune disorders such as common variable immune deficiency (CVID) and neurological disorders like Guillain–Barre syndrome and myasthenia gravis.

The medicines are also used to help treat cytopenia, a disorder featuring a low mature red blood cell count which can occur following radiotherapy and chemotherapy for cancer treatment, as well as dermatological disorders like Kawasaki syndrome and toxic epidermal necrolysis.

Amid a global supply shortage due to rising demand, the UK has previously depended on imports of blood plasma from other countries – mainly the US.

Dr Gail Miflin, chief medical officer for NHSBT, said: “Plasma is made into lifesaving medicines for people with rare diseases.

“There is a growing need for plasma for medicines and a worldwide shortage of donors.”

She said a “dedicated plasmapheresis programme” would “greatly increase NHSBT’s ability to provide plasma at volume” and reduce the reliance on plasmas from overseas.

Donations will be taken at repurposed former convalescent centres originally created for coronavirus research.

They are in Stockton, Barnsley, Manchester, Bolton, Birmingham, Coventry, Wolverhampton, Chelmsford, Reading, Bristol, Croydon, Stratford, Tottenham and Twickenham.

Gazette: Erin Sadler with mum Helen in hospital.

More than 1,500 people, drawn from an existing blood donor base, are booked in to donate in the first week, with open recruitment to be introduced in the future.

Sue Dimmock, acting chairwoman of UK Primary Immune-deficiency Patient Support, said: “Those of us who are unable to make our own antibodies completely rely on regular infusions of donated, plasma-derived antibodies to fight infection and to stay as healthy as possible.

“Without this treatment, we have an extremely limited defence against infection and disease.”

Minister for innovation Lord Bethell hailed the “historic occasion” and urged people thinking about donating plasma to “absolutely take the plunge”.