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Plasma Donation - the Ins and Outs of Plasmapheresis

Updated on March 2, 2014

What is Plasma?

Your blood can be categorized into two portions, cellular and liquid. The cellular portion Includes red blood cells which carry oxygen and platelets and white blood cells which fight infection. The liquid portion called plasma contain proteins and antibodies which are produced by the immune system to fight disease.

Fresh Frozen Plasma


Why Donate Plasma?

There are multiple reasons why one may decide to donate plasma. Their motives may be that they have the willingness to help others. It could also be for their personal monetary gain. Most likely it is a combination of both

Plasma may help others because they are used in the manufacture of treatments and therapies for Immune deficiencies, burns, shock, hemophilia and other blood disorders. These therapies can be used in the prevention and/or treatment of diseases and disorders. Some therapies are used to improve the quality of life. In some severe cases they may even be life saving.

Additional information can be found at -

Plasma Based Treatments and Therapies

Coagulation Therapies - Used to control bleeding in genetic bleeding disorders like Hemophilia A, Hemophilia B, and Von Willebrand disease. These type of therapies can have a positive impact on both the quality of life, and life span of patients.

Immunoglobulins - Used to treat immunodeficiencies and neurological disorders. Primary immunodeficiencies are genetic defects that negatively impacts the immune systems. Secondary immunodeficiencies are caused by viruses, chemotherapy, auto-immune disorders and other immune deficiencies. Chronic Idiopathic Demyelinanting Polyneurophy is a neurological disorder that affects the peripheral nerves. These type of therapies can have a positive impact on the quality of life, life span and prevention of infection.

Hyperimmune Globulins - Used in the treatment and/or prevention of Rabies, Tetanus, Hepatitis, and Rh negative pregnancies. They are also used for liver transplants and surgeries.

Alpha-1 Proteinase Inhibitors - Protects tissues from enzymes of inflammatory cells. Prevents the progression of Alpha-1 Antitrypsin Deficiency, a genetic deficiency which may result in life-threatening lung disease and/or liver disease.

Albumin - Used to regulate blood volume. Important treatment for shock and severe burns. Also used during surgeries. In extreme cases it can be life saving.

It is likely that you or someone you know is or has been affected directly or indirectly by one of the above therapies. Personally my children may not be here today without plasma based therapies due to Rh negative pregnancies. So I am thankful that someone, somewhere donated plasma allowing me to have my family.

More information is available via The Plasma Protein Therapeutics Association -

Plasma Donation Locations.

Once you decide to donate plasma, you will need to find a donation center. Centers have a marketing radius in which you must live to donate there. There are multiple safeguards in place to prevent people from donating at multiple places thereby compromising their health. has a valuable donor center lookup tool that can be found at -

Screening Donors

When it comes to donation, care must be used in order to ensure the safety of the donor and the recipients of plasma based therapies. There are rigorous safeguards throughout the process to ensure each an every donation meet quality standards while protecting the health of the donor. While the screening may vary from center to center...below are common things that are screened for.

Proof of Identity - Be prepared to bring a photo id, social security card, and proof of residency to prove that you are who you say you are.

Background checks - In order to ensure you have not had any drug charges, or have not been incarcerated in a prison, either which would put you in a high risk group.

National Donor Deferral Registry - Checked to make sure you are not on this list in a temporary or permanent basis.

Physical and health history review - To insure that you are physically able to donate good plasma.

Drug Testing - Used to determine if the donor has taken drugs that would affect the quality of the donated plasma.

Risk assessment questionnaire - Every time you go to donate you must answer to the best of your ability a battery of questions to ensure you are not in a high risk category.

Vital signs and preliminary blood tests - Every time you donate, vital signs like blood pressure, heart rate, weight and temperature are taken to ensure you are healthy enough to donate. Blood tests to determine plasma protein and hematocrit levels along with disease detection are performed.

Hand Marking Stains and Arm Inspections - Are used to help deter the act of multiple donations at more than one donation center which could compromise the health of the donor.



Now its off to the donation floor. Hop up into a reclined donation chair next to a Plasmapheresis machine. The technician asks you your identifying information in order to properly credit you with the donation and ensure the future tracability of your donation. Info is logged into machine that controls the speed and amount of donation.

Sterile donation bottles, tubing, needle are opened in front of you as you are prepped for donation. The stick location is cleaned with Iodine to prevent infection. A pressure cuff is tightened around your upper arm and you are asked to pump your hand gently and then hold a fist. The stick is over in a moment, hemostats are released off of the tubing and your donation is underway.

The donation process happens in cycles. Your blood is drawn from you filling a bowl. once a level is reached the bowl started to spin to allow the plasma to pass through a screen and get deposited into a bottle. Once the plasma is extracted the red blood cells are returned to back to you. This cycle repeats the required amount of times in order to reach your full donation. When the last red blood cells are returned to you saline may be added in order to help replenish the fluids lost during donation.

The technician comes back, collects the plasma and logs it into the computer system. They will then notify you of when you are available to donate next. Federal law prohibits donating more than once in a two day period and more than twice in a seven day period. The technician then removes the needle and proceeds to bandage you up, disposes of the donation equipment into hazardous waste receptacles and cleans the donation chair for the next person.

Plasma Donation Tips

Before your donation -

  • Do drink plenty of non-caffeinated fluids.
  • Avoid alcohol 24 hours prior to donation.
  • Eat a well balanced protein rich meal within 4 hours of donation.
  • Avoid fatty and high cholesterol foods 24 hours before donation.
  • Do get a minimum of 5-6 hours of sleep the night before.
  • Avoid using tobacco products one hour before donation.
  • Never take non-prescription illegal drugs before donation.
  • Avoid getting piercings or tattoos 12 months prior to donation.

After your donation -

  • Eat a light meal and drink more fluids than normal
  • Avoid tobacco products and alcohol
  • Keep venipuncture site clean and dry
  • If there is bleeding from the venipuncture site raise arm and apply pressure
  • Ice can be applied for swelling or bruising. Never more than 20 minutes at a time, or more than 20 minutes per hour.
  • if fainting or dizziness occurs, lie down or sit with head between legs and seek medical attention.

S&Mj Adventures Plasma Donation Experience

Now for a little information on our plasma donation experience. Here at S&Mj Adventures we are helpers...and plasma donation gave us the opportunity to help others while working on our condition that we have, called "fundsR-low"

We are at the infancy of our business and one hurdle that we have is the procurement of two GoPro Hero+3 Black edition cameras. Matt had the genius idea of giving plasma to both knock it off of our list...all while earning the money for our GoPros. So once this is finished both of our cameras will be purchased solely with plasma funds. We have dubbed these cameras the worlds only "Plasma Go Pros"

We are donating at the CSL Plasma location in Hamilton, Ohio. Our first donation was taken at the end of February and we will have enough for the cameras in a little over a month.

You can follow our Plasma Donation Experience at - .

CSL Plasma donation experience

CSL Plasma

CSL Plasma:
3255 Dixie Highway, Hamilton, OH 45014, USA

get directions

CSL Plasma donation center serving the greater Hamilton Ohio area.

Medical Information Disclaimer

The health-related information in this article is meant for basic informational purposes only. It is not intended to serve as medical advice, substitute for a doctor’s appointment or to be used for diagnosing or treating a disease. Readers of this article are advised to consult with their physician before making any decisions concerning their health.


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