Donating plasma

What is plasma?

Plasma consists primarily of water and proteins that help the body control bleeding and infection. It also makes possible natural chemical communication among different parts of the body by carrying minerals, hormones, vitamins and antibodies. Important plasma proteins include coagulation factors and globulins, as well as albumin.

Plasma used in plasma-based therapies is obtained through two different donation processes; recovered and source plasma. Recovered plasma is obtained from whole blood donations. In the United States, approximately 280 milliliters of plasma are obtained per a single whole blood donation.

Source plasma is collected through the use of an automated plasmapheresis process. During this process, the plasma component of whole blood is collected through the use of an automated machine, safely returning the cellular blood components, such as red blood cells and platelets, back to the donor. Approximately 600-800 milliliters of plasma can be safely obtained during each donation.

How is donating plasma different from donating whole blood?

Plasma donation process:

Plasma is collected through a process called plasmapheresis. When donating plasma, whole blood is withdrawn from the body. The whole blood is then separated into plasma and the other whole blood elements using a sterile system. The plasma is retained and other whole blood elements – red blood cells, white blood cells and platelets – are returned to the donor during the plasmapheresis process. But because the cellular components are returned, a donor can donate as often as twice in a seven day period, with at least one day between donations.

Whole blood donation process:

Whole blood is collected manually into a container approved for the collection of human blood. During a whole blood donation, all components of the blood are collected. Because all of the blood’s components are collected, whole blood donors are only allowed to donate once every eight weeks in order to replenish the body’s blood supply. BioFirst does not collect whole blood.