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How one Utah man’s life was affected through simple plasma donations

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When you hear the word "plasma," you likely think of donors you have known or your own personal experience donating.

However, you rarely think or hear about how the plasma donated benefits people's lives. DC Young is one of many people who are the beneficiaries of medicines made from plasma throughout the United States.

Young, who lives in Toquerville, Utah, suffers from a genetic condition called Alpha-1 Antitrypsin Deficiency. According to Alpha-1Foundation.org, the condition "may result in serious lung disease in adults and/or liver disease at any age."

In Young's case, he didn't even know he had the condition until he was 58-years-old and by the time he was diagnosed, the condition had caused severe deterioration in his lungs. He is now 70-years-old and his lungs are like that of a long-time cigarette smoker despite the fact that he has never smoked.

"As it is, my lungs are bad enough that I have a hard time climbing up two flights of stairs," Young said.

Luckily, in 2004, Young began receiving a plasma medicine which provides him with the Antitrypsin protein he is lacking and one infusion per week has helped Young enjoy his life more fully.

One plasma donation produces a very small amount of Antitrypsin but these small amounts add up. Donatingplasma.org says that it takes approximately 900 plasma donations to make enough medicine to treat one patient with Alpha-1 for a year.

"I've been to the plasma center where people are donating plasma and boy, I'll tell you I'm glad they are," Young said. "I'm grateful for them. I don't get much of what they give. It takes a whole lot of liters of plasma to give me a week's dosage for my treatment but I benefit by it. I'm grateful."

According to the Alpha-1 Foundation, one in every 2,500 Americans suffer from Alpha-1 but, if diagnosed early, people with Alpha-1 can remain healthier throughout their lives. In Young's case, it was his brother Wayne's diagnosis that led to his being tested for Alpha-1.

Since his initial diagnosis, Young has been able to control the progression of his lung deterioration. Had Young been diagnosed sooner it is possible that he would still be able to do the things he once loved like basketball and hunting. For this reason, he encourages people to be tested early. Nonetheless, he is grateful to have treatment.

As someone who has directly benefitted from plasma donations, Young encourages anyone who is healthy, able and willing to donate plasma, regardless of their motivation.

"I would say if you're healthy, and it doesn't bother you to do that, you're doing the public, in general, a service," Young said. "You're helping the total system, specifically some portions of the system, live a better life. You're helping somebody in their quality of life and that, to me, is amazing."

Young has already beat the odds as the normal life expectancy for one with his condition is typically 65 years, if they make it out of childhood at all. Young has enjoyed 70 years of life thus far and doesn't plan to check out any time soon.

"I plan to beat it a whole lot more," Young said. "10, 12, 15, 20 years more."

For more information on how you can donate plasma visit plasmadonationutah.com