CSL Plasma, one of the world's largest collectors of human plasma, is honoring donors from the Duluth area today as part of a statewide observance of "Plasma Protein Therapies Month."
According to Randy Furby, Senior Vice President and General Manager of CSL Plasma, Plasma Protein Therapies Month is helping raise awareness of rare genetic diseases treated with plasma-derived therapies while recognizing the generous contributions of plasma donors in the state,
"Every year, thousands of people around the world with rare diseases depend upon therapies made from donated human plasma," Furby says. "These therapies treat people with hemophilia, von Willebrand's disease, immune disorders, hereditary angioedema, Alpha 1-antitrypsin deficiency and more." According to the Plasma Protein Therapeutics Association, approximately 8.5 million liters of source plasma are donated in the US every year.
In addition to donors, invited guests to the event which is being held in CSL Plasma's collection center at 106 West Superior Street in Duluth include patients that benefit from plasma-derived therapies and local, state and federal elected officials.
Donors to address gathering
John and Mary Gerszewski, who met at the Duluth center in 2007 and married in 2008, will share their perspective which is representative of CSL Plasma donors. John has been donating plasma since 2005. "We know that it helps people," John says. "Mary and I are all about that."
Helping people was also the motivation for John and Mary to expand their partnership beyond married life. The couple recently opened the Lifetime Wellness Center in Duluth where they help disabled and elderly clients stay fit and limber. "Hopefully we can help people maintain their independence and remain in their homes longer," John said.
Bringing patients, employees and donors together
According to Allen Coleman, CSL Plasma's Divisional Director of Operations, CSL Plasma's innovative Adopt-a-Patient program brings donors, patients and CSL Plasma employees together. The program provides donors and employees with an opportunity to interact with patients to learn more about their therapy, while patients learn about the collection process and the quality standards used to collect the safest, highest quality plasma.
Coleman also points to the impact of the plasma center, which is staffed by 51 full-time and 14 part-time employees from the Duluth area, on the local economy. "Employee salaries and wages total over $1.5 million annually," Coleman says. "In addition, we collect 100,000 donations a year for which Duluth-area donors receive over $3 million."
While the total amount of dollars that are annually infused in the Duluth economy not including state and local taxes is more than $4.5 million, John Gerszewski says it best: it's all about people.
Headquartered in Boca Raton, Florida, CSL Plasma is a wholly owned subsidiary of CSL Behring, a global leader in the research, development and manufacture of lifesaving therapies used to treat rare and serious diseases.