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Is Donating Plasma Safe?

Daniel Marcus';

By Daniel Marcus

Posted on June 30th, 2021 in News, Myths & Tips

Plasma, the liquid part of your blood, accounts for 55% of it, whereas the remaining 45% are red blood cells, white blood cells, and platelets.

The content of water in plasma is approximately 92%, whereas 7% consists of vital proteins such as albumin, gamma globulin, and anti-hemophilic factor, and 1% consists of mineral salts, sugars, fats, hormones, and vitamins.

There are four essential purposes of plasma in our bodies, namely:

  • it helps maintain blood pressure and volume
  • it supplies critical proteins for blood clotting and immunity
  • it carries electrolytes such as potassium and sodium to our muscles
  • it helps maintain a normal pH balance in our bodies, which supports cell function

Every liter of plasma is worth $200 before the manufacturing process and $500 after. People who need to receive plasma are usually trauma, burn, and shock patients. Furthermore, plasma is also necessary for individuals with severe liver disease and multiple clotting factor deficiencies. It is noteworthy that pharmaceutical companies use plasma as well to develop treatments for conditions such as immune deficiencies and bleeding disorders. Therefore, donating plasma may be something you want to do in order to help other people. However, many wonder if donating plasma is actually safe.

Who Can Donate Plasma?

In general, plasma donors must be 18 or over and weigh at least 110 pounds. Every person must pass two different medical examinations: a medical history screening and testing for transmissible viruses. Before donating plasma, it is very important to:

  • drink a lot of water or juice to be fully hydrated
  • announce the medical staff if you have recently undergone a surgery
  • notify the medical staff if you have got a piercing or a tattoo within the past 12 months
  • tell the medical staff if you are taking any medication

Since the need for plasma is tremendous, donation centers are looking for committed donors. Only after you pass the two health screenings and after you receive negative tests results can you receive the status of Qualified Donor.

It is important to know that donation centers are especially seeking people who have type AB blood, as their plasma is universal and can thereby be given to anyone who needs it. Moreover, type AB plasma transfusions can be given immediately, without wasting precious time finding out whether the blood type of the patient is compatible.

How Does a Plasma Donation Take Place, and Is It Really Safe?

Firstly, you should know that donating plasma is a completely safe process as long as it takes place in IQPP certified collection centers, where it is performed in a highly controlled and sterile environment by well-trained medical professionals. The plasma collection equipment is sterilized, and the equipment that comes in contact with you is only used once to avoid the possibility of transmitting a viral infection.

The process of donating plasma resembles that of donating blood. A needle is inserted into a vein in your arm. The plasma is collected through a process known as plasmapheresis and takes place in cycles that may take up to one hour. Usually, your first plasma donation will take approximately 2 hours. During plasmapheresis, the entire blood is drawn, and plasma is subsequently separated from it with the use of special medical technology.

Once the plasma is collected, the red blood cells, the white blood cells, the platelets, and the other blood components are returned to your body in combination with a sterile saline solution. This will help your body replace the plasma removed from your blood faster. Your following plasma donations will take approximately 90 minutes. Lastly, it is important to know that the majority of plasma donating centers offer some form of compensation to donors in exchange for their time and effort.

How Often Can I Donate Plasma?

If you choose the American Red Cross, you can donate plasma once every 28 days, or approximately 13 times a year. However, the majority of private plasma donation companies allow you to donate plasma more frequently, such as multiple times a week, which is neither healthy nor safe. These companies usually operate on a pay-per-donation system, offering financial compensation to donors.

Donating plasma too frequently can not only be dangerous for your health but will also damage the quality of the plasma. A 2010 study found that plasma from people who donated more often and in higher volumes was considerably lower in total protein, albumin, and other blood markers. Therefore, we advise you to only donate plasma once every 28 days, preferably through donation centers such as those of the American Red Cross.

The Importance of Plasma Donation

Regrettably, only a very small number of people who are good candidates for plasma donation in the United States actually choose to be donors. Donating plasma can prove to be life-saving for the person in need. While source plasma is plasma that is collected from healthy, volunteer donors through plasmapheresis, recovered plasma is collected through whole blood donation, after which plasma is separated from the other blood components.

Both source plasma and recovered plasma are used to develop treatments for people with rare, chronic diseases and disorders, such as primary immunodeficiency, hemophilia, and genetic lung disease. They are also crucial in the production of treatment for trauma, burns, and shock. Whole blood donations are generally used locally in hospitals for transfusions that are necessary during surgery or other medical treatment.

If you are a good candidate for it, you can donate plasma in one of the numerous licensed and certified donor centers in the United States, and we strongly encourage you to do so, as you have nothing to lose. Even though donating plasma requires great commitment, you should think of the people who are in desperate need of it and whom you will be able to help by making this act of generosity.