Here is everything you need to know before you become a blood plasma donor.
What is blood plasma?
This is the part of the blood where the white and red blood cells (including proteins, carbohydrates, fats, proteins, etc.) are found. Plasma represents 55% of the total blood volume, and about 90% of it is water.
And while blood transfusions are used to increase blood volume, plasma is used for coagulation (clotting) in patients who have experienced severe trauma associated with the loss of large amounts of blood. It contains a critical protein that helps to clot blood and stop bleeding.
Universal donors are the people with the blood type of AB (as opposed to blood, where blood type O is the universal donor). But as only 4% of the population has this blood type, that is why the donations of this type are incredibly important and often inadequate.
What do you need to know before donating plasma?
There are two ways to donate plasma:
One is by blood donation, which takes about 10 minutes. Only the plasma from the donated blood is extracted.
The other option is by direct donation of blood plasma, which can take anywhere from 90 minutes to 3 hours. The process is done by a machine and two needles; one taking blood, and one returning it. The device pulls the plasma out with one needle and returns the blood back to your body through the other.
Avoid consuming fatty foods several hours before making a donation.
Fats make plasma processing more complicated. When your body is digesting heavy foods, fat will have invaded your bloodstream and increased your fatty acid levels, which can slow down the plasma filtering machine.
It is not advisable for women who have been or are pregnant to donate blood plasma.
Although you are not currently pregnant, the fact that once you did it, makes plasma donation a little risky for you and your health. A rare lung complication could result from this.
No one is quite sure why this could happen, but the plasma of once pregnant women comprises antibodies or immune cells that can induce unwanted symptoms such as difficulty breathing and fluid in the lungs.
Recovery after plasma donation
Unlike conventional blood donation, when donating plasma, you will not feel dizzy and be prone to seizures. You may additionally be more likely to give plasma as opposed to donating blood.
Blood donation should be at least 8 weeks before the next one, while blood plasma donations can be made twice a week. This is because it only takes 24 hours to form new blood in the body. And with the contribution of the plasma itself, the red blood cells are pumped back into your body, resulting in less volume loss.