There has been a surge in female plasma donors in Birmingham since the introduction of new ‘female friendly’ donation machines in August, boosting future supplies of a lifesaving medicine.

There are now 402 female donors in Birmingham, making up 29% of the active donor base. Before the new machines were introduced, only about 8% of donors were female, fewer than 100 people.

The new machines are female friendly because they take out a smaller amount of blood at a time and filter out the plasma faster. That makes it safe for smaller and slighter people to donate, which has enabled far more women to donate.

The increase is boosting donations of plasma, which is made into a medicine called immunoglobulin, which saves lives by strengthening or stabilising the immune system. Supplies of immunoglobulin are under pressure around the world and plasma donation in Birmingham will bolster availability of the medicine in England. Around 1,300 people from West Midlands region receive immunoglobulin each year, including more than 500 from Birmingham.

NHS Blood and Transplant has been directed to take donations to bolster long term immunoglobulin supplies to NHS hospitals in the face of international supply pressures. England relied on imported immunoglobulin for more than 20 years as a precaution against vCJD but the Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency (MHRA) said last year that plasma from UK donors can again be used for immunoglobulin.

Mark Bailey, manager of the Birmingham plasma donor centre, which is in New Street in Birmingham city centre, said: “These new machines have transformed how many females can donate. They are faster and take less blood at a time, so many more people meet the new rules on height and weight. Please register to donate plasma – you have a medicine in you which will save lives.”