This is an archived article that was published on in 2016, and information in the article may be outdated. It is provided only for personal research purposes and may not be reprinted.

Sheila's story, or one strikingly similar, is one heard across the country. This young mother was experiencing shortness of breath, and after seeking medical attention Sheila was diagnosed with a genetic condition that occurs when a person has lower than normal levels of a protein known as alpha-1 antitrypsin, allowing certain enzymes to attack healthy body tissue – primarily in the lungs. If left untreated, alpha-1 can cause severe lung disease.

Being a busy mom in nursing school Sheila did not take much action beyond receiving her diagnosis and did initially did not take it seriously. Sheila's condition went untreated for several years. At the urging of her brother, who also has an alpha-1 diagnosis, Sheila finally began a plasma medicine treatment which drastically changed her situation.

Plasma contains hundreds of essential proteins and antibodies that are vital to the body's ability to maintain critical functions, including controlling bleeding and fighting infections. Without enough of these proteins, a person could have a life-threatening illness, like Sheila. An alpha-1 diagnosis is no longer the death sentence it was once thought.

Though plasma medicine will not cure Sheila of her condition, it has allowed her to live a more normal life and ensure that she is there for her children. Plasma medicines have helped improve the quality of life of patients with alpha-1 and many other rare conditions (clotting disorders, shock and burn victims are a few examples), but it takes around 900 donations to make enough medicine to treat a patient like Sheila for just one year.

But plasma donation doesn't only benefit the recipient; plasma donors also see many personal benefits. Donors receive health screenings prior to each donation and a thorough exam by a medical professional at the time of the first visit and annually thereafter. The health screening process has led to many cases of early detection of serious medical conditions plasma donors were not aware of and consequently they were able to address the issue(s) more proactively. Plasma donation has also been linked to lowering bad cholesterol levels of plasma donors.

Lifesaving donors are also compensated for their time. At Biomat USA Inc. donors earn up to $100 per week, for students and soccer moms this can add up to a significant source of additional income, money that also helps bolster their local community.

Plasma donation can be a relaxing experience as well, in fact many donors are eager for the break from a hectic day or week and look forward to the time to read, do homework, watch TV or just listen to music.

Sheila had the opportunity to visit a Biomat USA Inc. plasma donation center and remarked how excellent the experience was. "It was great to get to thank the donors. It's amazing how they get involved. I appreciated having the opportunity to talk to the donors and thank them."

In Roy, Utah a new center recently opened and features not only the latest technology, but also offers a free supervised play area for children. "Some of our most frequent donors are busy stay at home moms," says Creed Bailey, the center manager. "I strive to make sure my staff treats our donors with the respect and kindness they deserve, in fact our employees are on a first name basis with most of our donors, this is more than just a paycheck or a job for us. I'm proud of my staff and their level of commitment and compassion. Donors earn some extra money while providing a benefit to someone with a serious lifelong illness. With the money we are putting back into the community by compensating donors and providing employment to our future leaders whole saving lives; it truly is a win-win."

Biomat USA is constantly working on research and development of new products and has many promising prospects that may one day treat medical conditions that currently have no cure. Unlike whole blood, plasma can be frozen and stored up to 10 years and the donor does not have to have the same blood type, in fact many donors are active military and donate because they know how important this life saving product is.

To learn more visit their website at