Life running on plasma power

Gillian McMinn is one of those with an immune disorder countered by the blood plasma product IVIg.Pic: SuppliedBEFORE competition road-cyclist Gillian McMinn became ill with an immune disorder she lived by the mantra ‘‘you can do anything if only you try hard enough”.

Now the Newcastle physiotherapist prefers, ‘‘with support and love, a little experience and flexibility, you can make the most of every day, with whatever you have, wherever you are’’.

Since her diagnosis of chronic inflammatory demyelinating polyneuropathy – an illness she said feels like ‘‘someone has pulled out my power cord at the socket’’ – she relies on a three gram dose of the blood product IVIg, made from blood plasma, to keep her batteries charged.

Before the treatment Ms McMinn said she never imagined she would have a child, travel or live a normal life again.

‘‘It took all my energy just to go to work and do some occasional exercise … A shower would feel exhausting, my balance would be off, my bladder and bowels would be very unreliable and my arms and legs had strange pains and sensations.

‘‘For the couple of weeks after the infusion I usually have enough energy to take my son to the park, do a couple of bike rides and manage some of the physio exercise therapy that helps my strength and pain.’’

The treatment has meant she has been able to achieve physical feats she had thought impossible, like riding her bike up a mountain in the French Pyrenees and having a baby.

‘‘I know how lucky I am to have access to IVIg here in Australia. If I were somewhere else in the world my life would be very different now – I almost certainly would not be able to walk, work, have my son,’’ she said.

As part of National Blood Week more than 150 Newcastle donors, who collectively made 15,000 donations, will this week be recognised and the need highlighted.

Due to a shortage of the plasma Ms McMinn has to be temporarily treated with an overseas product.

She is concerned that importing plasma could mean others overseas miss out.

Comments are closed.

Post Navigation