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Tracy Frank, Published September 11 2007

Plasma firm adds Moorhead center

A BioLife Plasma Services center is opening in Moorhead, making it, along with Fargo’s center, the first sister-center in the company.

The company has never built two centers so close together, Scott Ehrmantraut, BioLife regional manager, said during a groundbreaking ceremony Monday.

“We’ve been very, very successful here,” Ehrmantraut said.

Most centers average 400 to 500 donations a week. When the Fargo facility opened 15 years ago, the hope was to get 800 plasma donations in a week. Fargo is now the model for the company with between 2,300 and 2,500 donations each week.

“Before that, the belief was the only people who would donate plasma were inner-city people without jobs and the idea was let’s go to middle America where people still care,” Ehrmantraut said. “What we found here was we just hit a home run because people really feel good about helping the patients.”

The growth of the BioLife center in Fargo helped lead to the construction of a 15,000-square-foot Moorhead facility, which is expected to open in late February, Ehrmantraut said.

The new BioLife center at 2960 12th St. S. will be one of 64 centers in the United States and Europe that collect donated plasma used to create life-saving and sustaining products.

Moorhead Mayor Mark Voxland said it’s exciting to have BioLife coming into town.

“These 40 acres have been the hole in the donut in Moorhead for several years,” Voxland said.

BioLife Plasma Services is part of Baxter Healthcare Corp., the principal domestic operating subsidiary of Baxter International Inc.

The donated plasma is used to manufacture products for patients with primary immune deficiency and hemophilia, as well tetanus, rabies, measles, rubella and hepatitis B, according to a news release.

Chris Lind of Horace, N.D., who has the immune system disorder common variable immunodeficiency, helped break ground on the facility.

He receives infusions every 21 days of a product made from the plasma and said it’s a great feeling knowing the community supports the facility.

“It feels good to be alive,” Lind said.

Donors come from all walks of life, Ehrmantraut said.

Five percent of the donors in Fargo are unemployed and 40 percent are students.

“Some communities you go to, it’s about the money and then they feel good about it,” he said. “In this community, they feel good about it and then it’s the money, which is really wonderful.”

The donation process takes about 1½ hours. Donors can give plasma twice a week and are paid $20 for the first donation and $30 for the second donation. An automated system will make sure people are not donating more than that between the two centers.

The Moorhead center is expected to open with 24 to 26 employees.

The facility will have several environmentally friendly features such as a reflective roof, and parking surfaces that minimize the surrounding heat levels, reduce glare and exterior light pollution. Advanced systems and amenities to purify the air will be used in the building, a news release stated.

Readers can reach Forum reporter Tracy Frank at (701) 241-5526