FAQs on Blood Plasma

Unpacking the mystery of plasma donation

Find answers to your questions about blood plasma

What is it? Where is it used? Why is it so important? 

What is blood plasma?

Plasma makes up 55% of blood, and is one of the most critical components, as it carries cells and proteins throughout the body. Plasma is often given to trauma, burn, or shock patients, but is also used to create plasma protein therapies that are used to help treat a wide variety of chronic, rare diseases like blood clotting disorders and immune system conditions. Plasma-derived therapies are made from donated human plasma and are used to replace missing or deficient proteins in individuals, which provides them the ability to lead healthier lives.

Do I need to make an appointment?

Whether you need to make an appointment depends on the donation center. Find the one nearest you and call to find out if an appointment is required and any other items you might need to bring along. Many have a simple sign-up process online, as well.

Am I eligible to donate?

Plasma donors must be at least 18 years of age, weigh more than 110 pounds, and be in good health. Before donors give plasma, they are required to pass a health screening and provide proof of identity and address. While specific requirements may vary from location to location, a recent tattoo or piercing may make a plasma donor temporarily ineligible to donate.

 

How do I prepare for my first donation?

When you make your appointment, you will receive specific instructions about what to bring with you. Generally, you’ll need proof of identity, proof of address, and a valid social security card. Make sure that you eat a light meal before you arrive and drink plenty of water in the hours leading up to your donation. Bringing something to read to pass the time is always a good idea.

What happens during my appointment?

When you arrive, you’ll be asked to provide appropriate paperwork and to complete a health screening and a blood test. Once the screening is complete, you are ready to donate. The process used to collect plasma is called plasmapheresis. During this process, whole blood is collected and treated to separate the plasma from blood and other cellular components. The blood (minus the plasma collected) is then returned to your body, along with a sterile saline solution to help replace the plasma that was just removed. Your first donation will take approximately two hours. Return visits take about much less time.

Is it safe to donate plasma?

Yes! There’s no super strength needed to donate plasma. Each certified plasma donation center is sterile and operated by trained medical professionals to make sure that plasma donors donate safely.

What happens to my plasma after I donate it?

Plasma is used to create different therapies to help replace missing or deficient proteins in individuals with serious, often life-threatening diseases, such as hemophilia and primary immunodeficiency. The plasma is frozen after donation to await confirmation of tests ensuring the donor's safety and the health of the plasma. From there, it goes to a facility for production. It can take approximately 12 months from donation until the product is available for patients.

How often can I donate plasma?

Federal regulations permit a qualified donor to donate blood plasma two times in a seven-day period with at least 48 hours between donations. Some states have stricter requirements than these federal guidelines.

Who does plasma help?

For many with rare diseases, plasma-derived therapies are the only option for life-saving treatment. The individuals who use these therapies typically rely on it for life, which means that they need to get regular injections or infusions of these plasma-derived therapies.

These therapies include: clotting factors, immunoglobulin (also known as antibodies), Alpha-1 antitrypsin, albumin, hyperimmune globulins, and more.

 

Is all plasma the same?

All plasma is generally the same. However, source plasma is collected from donors to manufacture plasma-derived therapies. Convalescent plasma is an antibody-rich product made from plasma donated by someone who has recovered from a disease/virus, such as COVID-19. Convalescent plasma is useful too, as some of the same people who need plasma-derived therapies need convalescent plasma.

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