A Gala to Remember: PPTA Celebrates 20 Years!

Laurie Kelley and Jan Bult

I feel like I went to the high school senior prom I
never got to go to in 1975. On Wednesday night the Plasma Protein Therapeutic
Association (PPTA) celebrated 20 years of representing the plasma manufacturers
worldwide. Dressed up for this black-tie event in Washington DC, I was able to mingle and meet
with CEOs, senior executives, patient advocates and the wonderful staff of
The Plasma Protein Therapeutics Association (PPTA)
is the primary advocate for the world’s leading source plasma collectors and
producers of plasma-based and recombinant biological therapeutics. The
medicines produced by PPTA members are used in treating life-threatening
diseases and serious medical conditions including bleeding disorders, immune system
deficiencies, alpha-1 antitrypsin deficiency, burns and shock. As the global
representative for the plasma collection and therapeutics industry, PPTA works
cooperatively with patient groups, policymakers, regulatory agencies and other
I met with many good friends and colleagues in hemophilia: Art Wood
and Jim Romano from PSI (you do know what PSI is, right?); Pete O’Malley of
Baxter; Paolo Marcucci, CEO of Kedrion and colleague Federico Rolando; Patrick
Robert of the Market Research Bureau and his lovely wife Clare; Chris Healey of
Grifols; Shinj Wada, CEO, Biomat USA, Inc. and many others.
Jan Bult, president and a personal friend of mine,
gave a wonderful speech and then showed a 9-minute movie of the importance and
history of plasma-derived therapies. (This film is available through PPTA if
you want to order it; I highly recommend it). It’s staggering to realize all
the people whose vision made these therapies a reality, and then to hear and
see the actual patients whose lives have been improved because of them. I’m so
locked into hemophilia, I lose perspective that there are millions who suffer
from immune disorders, for example—and face the same issues that we do: access
to affordable therapies, health insurance, complications, employment.

But the big surprise of the evening was an old friend.
When Jan introduced the keynote speaker, Theresa Andrews, I thought, not her,
not the wonderful hemophilia social worker I knew from University of Virginia
who edited my books and articles many years ago, who wrote for us, who had
positive attitude plus. Yes, it was she! But what would she speak about? She
had “retired” years ago.
Who knew she was a two-time Olympic gold medalist?
Laurie Kelley with Theresa Andrews,
hemophilia social worker and
Olympic Gold Medalist!

Her story was amazing. Perseverance, team work,
winning the gold by only a fraction of a second, and best of all, Theresa gave her first Olympic gold medal to her brother Dan in a private
gathering, honoring him for his courage after he was paralyzed at the age of 19.
This brother went on to be a judge, husband and father of several children, and
Theresa, who has perseverance and great attitude, says Dan is her inspiration!

I went to congratulate Theresa and we embraced
like long lost friends—which we were! She let me wear the medal and we promised
to stay in touch. Theresa just radiates good will and positive spirit, and
together with her brother’s story makes you feel that anything is possible.
I am quite partial to plasma therapies because
while they play a vital role in countries like the US, they are essential to lesser-developed
countries. Lower prices for plasma-derived factor means governments with small
budgets can better afford them. And the PPTA team will continue to watchdog and
monitor for safety.
Congratulations to Jan, Albert, Charles, Julie,
Josh, Diane, Dawn, their colleagues and all the supporters of PPTA. And thank
you for a wonderful evening!
For more info: http://www.pptaglobal.org/

Great Book I Just Read
Jayne Eyre by Charlotte Bronte

I read this in high school and loved it, and loved it even more when I just read it again. Jayne Eyre is a neglected, often abused, young girl, “plain” and frail outwardly but with a core of steel. The lyrically written book describes nineteenth century England’s orphanages, the cruelty faced by hapless children and their eternal resilience will bring tears to your eyes. Jayne secures a governorship finally as a teen in a mansion for a young French girl with a mysterious father. Even more mysterious is the strange woman locked away in the attic. When the master falls in love with Jayne, Jayne allows her heart to dare dream of love, only to see it dashed literally at the alter of marriage. Just when you think Jayne can suffer no more, she pulls in her resolve, shoulders her pain and goes on. The ending is beautiful, haunting, and magnificent. Five/five stars. A masterpiece.

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