Whenever Erika, an assistant manager at an Octapharma Plasma center, speaks with donors as they donate plasma, she shares her mother’s story to remind them of their life saving act.
“My mom is funny, sarcastic,” said Erika. “But when she gets sick, she is none of these things. She loses hope.”
In 2015, her mother, Guadalupe, began experiencing tingling in her hands. The sensation spread to her feet, arms, knees, and ultimately, a distinct numbness set in. Doctors began to search for the source of Guadalupe’s sudden health issues, and so began a long process of extensive bloodwork and testing.
As Erika helped her mother navigate the challenges of her mystery illness, she began working at Octapharma Plasma as a medical screener. She was eager to learn about plasma’s impact on patients’ lives and to support the development of plasma therapies.
Plasma is critically important to the medical community and its supply relies on human donations. The clear, golden-colored liquid helps treat patients who suffer from a variety of conditions. In her new role at Octapharma Plasma, it didn’t take long for Erika to realize that plasma therapies are in high demand and could one day impact those closest to her.
In 2016, Guadalupe was diagnosed with Chronic Inflammatory Demyelinating Polyneuropathy (CIDP), an autoimmune disorder impacting approximately 40,000 Americans. CIDP affects the peripheral nerves, causing weakness, numbness, and tingling in the limbs.
Erika remembers the day her mother became paralyzed, which happened shortly after her diagnosis. She and her family watched helplessly as her once independent mom lost any sense of movement. All hope for their mother’s health was shattered in a matter of hours.
Doctors quickly suggested plasma therapy as a viable treatment. This involved removing blood from the body, separating the plasma, and replacing it with donor plasma, which reduces the number of harmful antibodies in the body. The process meant several sessions of plasma exchange. Although it was time-consuming, Guadalupe was determined to see it through.
And as the treatment plan evolved, a beautiful connection between mother and daughter emerged.
One day, as Guadalupe was laying in her hospital bed receiving treatment, she noticed the box for her medication on her bedside table: Octapharma, the label read. She immediately recognized the brand as Erika’s employer and was awestruck. Her daughter had been directly involved in collecting the plasma needed to treat her rare condition. It was an unbelievable connection Erika describes as “fate.”
Erika watched her mother’s progress throughout therapy with a newfound sense of pride. She regained strength, mobility, and her familiar sassy, independent attitude. Guadalupe keeps the Octapharma boxes following each therapy session – a memento of pride for her daughter’s career.
Erika believes working within the plasma industry is her life’s calling. As she educates donors, she expresses gratitude, because for Erika, donors give her the greatest gift of all.
“To everyone who donates at Octapharma Plasma, thank you. You give me the gift of seeing my mother at her best.”
To give hope to families like Erika’s, visit your local Octapharma Plasma center and donate.