From the outside looking in, Michelle Kappenman appears to be like any other 28 year old from Clear Lake, South Dakota. She’s happily married and expecting her first baby this winter. But for Michelle things are very different on the inside than they appear on the outside. Michelle is one of fifty thousand people diagnosed with Common Variable Immune Deficiency (CVID). CVID is a disorder that impairs the immune system, keeping it from working properly. In Michelle’s case, she has a more rare form as she is deficient in all immunoglobulin antibodies. The lack of antibodies in Michelle’s immune system makes it very difficult to fight off infection. Michelle has virtually no immune system! While there is no known cure for CVID, Michelle relies on plasma-based therapies to help make her life a little more livable.

Michelle always struggled with being sick as a kid. Everything from ear infections to tonsillitis to sinus infections plagued her growing up. The year she graduated high school Michelle was at her absolute worst. She was a whopping 100 pounds, was pale, had no energy, and was always sick! After many doctors’ visits and several lab tests Michelle found out she had CVID. It was a blessing in disguise for her. She had suffered for so long, and this diagnosis was the answer she needed. Michelle soon started on Intravenous Immunoglobulin (IVIG) therapies. It took a little while, but she started to feel what it was like to be “healthy”. Michelle now does her therapies subcutaneously (SCIG). Michelle went to school for Medical Lab Tech at Lake Area Tech and for Patient Care Tech at Southeast Tech. The training she received has enabled her to administer her own therapies at home.

Michelle runs 10 grams of IG therapies once a week over a 2-hour time span. That’s 520 grams a year. About half of the antibodies received in the IG therapies are metabolized in about three to four weeks, so it is imperative that Michelle keep up with therapies to maintain the life she has now. It takes a minimum of 20 donors a week for the therapies Michelle uses every week. The plasma collected is fractionated and pooled over and over again. It can take 7 to 12 months for the plasma donated to be processed and useable.

All of these treatments are made possible thanks to plasma donations. Thanks to incredible donors like you, Michelle is able to live a healthy life again. She is able to enjoy all the things she loves about South Dakota like hunting, fishing, golfing, and just being outside. There is a large and growing community of people with CVID, and they are able to continue with their lives thanks to the amazing and dedicated donors who donate their life-saving plasma.

“I just want to say thank you to everyone who takes time to donate. You are helping far more than you think! Your generosity is far reaching. You are allowing me to continue life with my husband and unborn baby. I get to be a part of life again. I get to work and contribute to my family and society. You are saving lives for so many people! I rely on what you give, and it makes my life a little easier.”