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Many people with Common Variable Immunodeficiency (CVID) and other immune deficiencies and conditions need plasma treatments to help them live a better life and equip them for possible exposure to illnesses. Before my diagnosis, I had never heard of these treatments before. I want to give a rundown of how it works. If you are new to this or your loved one is going to be getting infusions, I hope that this provides you with some more insight into how it all works!
In my case, I am using plasma to help me build an immune system. I use the antibodies from healthy people who donate plasma! (please go donate plasma if you can – you get paid!) I have written more about the process of donating plasma, check it out! It takes 130 plasma donations to treat one person with primary immunodeficiency.
Every month I get two doses sent to my apartment along with some supplies. Right now I use Hizentra, which I just switched to due to insurance (I had Hqvia before, which I liked because it was once a month instead of once every two weeks). I get sent Hizentra from Coram, which is a part of CVS pharmacy. They have been great to work with!
I have to keep the plasma in the fridge until it’s time to infuse – every other Wednesday. I do a subcutaneous infusion, which means that I have to stab myself with little needles in the stomach. The other option is to go in and get an IV of plasma, but it is more time-consuming for me and it tends to have more side effects. I feel like SCIg has given me a good feeling of independence.
I do my infusion without the help of a nurse since I learned how to do everything. By now, I am pretty quick and I am glad that I have a good grip on how to administer the plasma.
Usually, my boyfriend helps me as well! After I put the needles in, I chill out in bed for about 2 and a half hours. In the beginning, it does sting a little, but it eventually goes away, and if I am laying down I honestly forget that the needles are even in (for the most part). Getting up and going to the bathroom is the hardest part, because I get scared of the tubing catching on something.
Here are my tips for subcutaneous infusions of plasma
- Give yourself a treat (I usually go for a nice cold Diet Coke)
- Don’t get frustrated with yourself if something goes wrong.
- You may have to take an antihistamine if you get red/itchy spots.
- Drink a lot of water (I’m bad about it sometimes)
- Watch your favorite show or movie – this is an excuse to relax and have “me time!”
- If you get upset, it’s okay, let yourself be upset! (spoiler alert: this kinda sucks sometimes)
It gets better!
If you are just starting out, I am here to tell you that it gets better! My first several treatments were rough, and I had a hard time coming to terms with it, especially since needles kind of creep me out. But, I know that this is necessary for me to get better and fight off future infections. I am appreciative of my body for continuing to fight
Plasma saves lives and I’m very grateful for it!