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Plasma Facts

What is plasma?

Plasma is the liquid portion of blood and contains all the substances necessary for normal blood clotting.

Why should I donate plasma?

A continuous supply of plasma is essential to meet the needs of patients in area hospitals. Nearly four million units of plasma are transfused annually in the United States. As medical treatment improves, plasma use continues to grow.

Who uses plasma?

Plasma is beneficial to a wide variety of patients. Children and adults with cancer, including leukemia, need plasma transfusions. Other users are people undergoing liver transplants, bone marrow transplants, and severe burn patients. Clotting factors for hemophilia patients are made from donated plasma.

For example, patients with liver disease cannot make the substances necessary for blood clotting. Plasma donations provide these substances until the patient's own liver recovers, or until a liver transplant is performed. These patients can use two to six units of plasma per day.

How is donating plasma different from donating whole blood?

In a whole blood donation, blood flows straight from the donor's arm into the collection bag. Then in the laboratory, the blood is separated into its components before being shipped to hospitals.

In a plasma donation, blood drawn from the donor's arm goes first to a cell separator machine. This type of automated technology is called apheresis (pronounced "a-fur-e-sis"). The plasma is separated and sent to a collection bag, and the remaining components are returned to the donor. Apheresis allows us to collect a larger, concentrated amount of a single blood component.

Apheresis is a closed, sterile system utilizing single-use disposable needles and plastic tubing. The donation takes one to two hours.

How often can I donate plasma?

The human body replaces plasma very quickly, so eligible donors may give plasma every four weeks, up to 12 times per year!

What are the steps to being a plasma donor?

The procedure for plasma apheresis donation is similar to a blood donation. However the donation takes about one to two hours. You may watch television or read a book during your donation.

It helps to eat a well-balanced meal beforehand, including iron-rich foods, but avoid consuming fatty foods and dairy products.

Am I eligible to donate plasma?

The general requirements for donating plasma are the same for whole blood. Additionally, you must wait 72 hours after taking aspirin or aspirin-containing medications.

Please speak to an Apheresis Supervisor about whether or not you qualify to donate plasma.

Where can I donate plasma?

We offer plasma donation at 6 of our donor centers. Please call to make an appointment, or if you have further questions.