Blood plasma donation centres collect plasma, and usually other types of blood, from donors. Plasma is a component of whole blood. Plasma makes up over half of the total volume of blood; the rest is blood cells that float inside the plasma. Plasma is made up of mostly water, but also includes vitamins, proteins, clotting factors, minerals, hormones and carbon dioxide. Plasma donations are needed by people with haemophilia and immune deficiencies, pregnant women, newborn babies, emergency room patients and burn victims. Plasma is also used extensively by pharmaceutical companies to make treatments. Because plasma is regenerated so quickly you can often donate twice a week.
The requirements for donating plasma are very similar to donating blood and include being 18 years of age or older, over 49.9 Kilogram, and feeling well and healthy. You also cannot have any illnesses that affect your blood such as hepatitis, HIV and cancer. Your donation centre will tell you any other requirements.
In order to donate plasma, you will probably need to make an appointment. Donating plasma takes longer than donating blood so most centres do not take walk-ins. Starting the day before you donate plasma you should be sure to drink plenty of water, which will help you feel well during and after donation, and will help your body replenish the lost water in plasma. Before heading to your appointment you should eat a good meal.
Before donating you will be screened and receive a mini-physical. When you donate a needle is inserted into your vein and your blood will be removed. The blood will then be spun around to separate the cells from the plasma. At regular intervals your blood cells will be returned to you, unlike with a whole blood donation. This is called plasmapheresis. This process takes about an hour.
Uses of Plasma
Plasma donations can be used in a number of ways. The plasma may go directly to patients or may be sold for use in medical research or treatment development. You cannot choose how your plasma will be used.
Some centres provide donors with compensation for their time, which can range greatly in amount. Other organisations provide points to be redeemed for gifts, and others do not provide compensation. Some centres are for-profit and some are non-profit. You are more likely to be paid for plasma if you use a for-profit centre.
Finding a Center
You can find donor centres in the yellow pages and online. If you have a preference, ask about the type of compensation offered by that centre.