To mark International Plasma Awareness Week (October 3-7), we’re sharing this story of a CSL Plasma employee who has a personal connection to his work.
Isaiah Murillo, of Tulsa, Oklahoma, grew up dealing with frequent illnesses and hospitalizations – all because of a genetic problem with his immune system.
At 3, he was diagnosed with X-linked agammaglobulinemia (XLA), a primary immunodeficiency disorder that makes people more vulnerable to serious and frequent infections of the inner ear, sinuses, respiratory tract, bloodstream and internal organs. Three of his four brothers also have XLA.
As a teenager, Murillo often visited a CSL Plasma Center as part of a program to demonstrate how critical plasma donations are to the health of people who rely on plasma-based medicines. Fast forward to today, Murillo is still spreading that message, but now as a CSL Plasma employee. He’s a Device Lead supporting the installation of a new and improved system for collecting plasma.
“There is always the donor and the recipient of a plasma-based medicine in mind,” he said. “We make a difference for so many people. While our jobs can be demanding, we play a crucial part in allowing others to live healthy lives.”
When he’s not working, Murillo says he loves traveling and getting to experience new places, like Florida and Colorado. He hikes and enjoys being out in nature, whether it’s the ocean or the mountains.
His mother, Carissa Hamel, remembers the early days when Murillo and his brothers were patients at St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital. The hospital helped provide medical care and an environment of comfort and care. But it was a tough road prior to diagnosis and treatment.
“Before starting treatment, we went into a nine-month quarantine with no visitors. We were not able to go in public. No playdates. No visits with grandparents,” she said.
The tide eventually turned with treatment and with support from the Immune Deficiency Foundation. The family found a community.
“Through IDF, we were able to meet friends that are still our friends to this day,” Hamel said. “The books for children that explain primary immune disorders were staples in our house. These helped my sons understand what was happening to their bodies and why they needed infusions.”
Through the years, Murillo and his siblings attended events, including a teen escape weekend in Minnesota. It was there that he learned of a CSL Plasma program to bring patients in to meet donors at local centers. He signed up and joined what is now the Plasma P.A.L.S. program.
Troy Wheeler, Associate Director, Operations and Quality, remembers meeting Murillo and his family. They quickly became familiar faces at CSL Plasma as they visited staff meetings and greeted donors. They were a reminder of why it is vital to collect quality plasma, Wheeler said.
“Every visit was a special visit for me and our staff,” he said. “Our employees had someone they could connect to when we ask them to go that extra mile to make sure the plasma we collect is safe to use for patients.”
In 2017, Isaiah joined the company, first as a Donor Floor Technician and then eventually moving into a Group Lead role at CSL Plasma center in Tulsa. He traveled frequently to train and assist other centers. Today, Murillo said he’s happy to serve in a critical support role and “be part of something bigger than myself.”
“Every time I receive an infusion of therapy, it makes me reflect, realize and appreciate all the work and the people who go into making plasma-based medicine,” he said.