10/22/2014

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Could the answer to severe allergies be in your blood?

Could the answer to severe allergies be in your blood?
EVERETT, Wash. -- Spring sunshine could have your allergies kicking into high gear. For relief, most people turn to the medicine cabinet.

But the answer to severe allergies could be in your blood.

Georgie Gerl drives from Spokane to Everett to donate her plasma, because she knows it fascinates researchers.

It has antibodies that indicate she's highly allergic to pollen, bee stings, certain medications and many foods.

"Eggs, dairy, chicken, chocolate, wheat. I could tell you what I can eat, which is a lot less," Georgie said.

Collecting plasma is similar to donating blood. A machine separates the red blood cells, returning them to the body - while saving the plasma.

Everett-based PlasmaLab International freezes and stores the donations until a laboratory makes a request.

"A customer might call and say, 'I need plasma with egg antibodies or milk antibodies,' " said Kay Hill from PlasmaLab. "We would then determine through our database which of these products has that."

The ultimate goal for researchers is to develop a vaccine for the worst allergies.

"Our hope is that the reactions aren't going to be as severe. When I say severe, I mean life-threatening. That would be a great hope for many people who can't even go to a restaurant and eat," Hill said.

Georgie has almost died from severe allergic reactions.

"I figured they're doing all this research then maybe they'll find something for my grandkids," she said. "Because someone's going to inherit the same kind of severity to everything as I am."

She hopes the future - and her plasma - hold the solution.

PlasmaLab pays allergy sufferers $100 for plasma donations. For more information, check out donors.plasmalab.com.
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