Meet Tim Anderson and his wife Alison. Once a week Tim receives plasma-based medication through an infusion that helps to keep him alive.

It all began one day when he was at work and went to turn his head. He suddenly felt a crack go all the way down his neck and knew immediately something was wrong. After being rushed to the hospital Tim underwent two surgeries as doctors found he had a huge infection in his neck. Though he had always had colds and sinus infections he never thought this would indicate a more serious problem. It took over a year for Tim to finally find out what was going on. After seeing specialists, immunologists and more doctors he was finally diagnosed with Common Variable Immune Deficiency (also known as CVID), a type of Primary Immune Deficiency. The disorder is “characterized by low levels of serum immunoglobulins and antibodies” and causes an increased susceptibility to infection. That means if someone sneezes in the grocery store, Tim could find himself in the hospital.

Tim discovered very quickly that he had to be his own advocate. A computer-science person he has always loved reading and learning, so he took this diagnosis and began his own research. “You have to be your own advocate,” he says. “The doctor is not going to be asking the questions you should be asking.” He says it’s important to find the right doctor, ask the right questions, and always get a second opinion. “Finding the right doctor is like a marriage, you have to find someone you can live with,” he says. Tim spends his time exercising, reading, and going to conferences to learn more about primary immune deficiency. He is active on Twitter and social media raising awareness for CVID and for people who are going through the nightmare that he went through. “Find every website, talk to every manufacturer of your product, find a patient advocate, get of forums and ask the hard questions,” he says.

He has a very special message for the plasma donors: “Thanks for my life. If they hadn’t figured this out this could have killed me.” Tim says the plasma donors are selflessly giving something that changes his life every day and he couldn’t thank them enough.