The process of Plasma Donation and its possible side effects

Plasma donation is donating the plasma that is present in one’s blood. Plasma donation is used very commonly when a patient is suffering from any fatal liver disease. The plasma in the blood is separated from other components, and then it is transferred to the patients.

What is Plasma?

Blood has a lot of components such as White Blood Cells, Red Blood Cells, etc. Plasma is one of the elements of blood. It is the liquid part of the blood. About 55% of our blood constitutes Plasma the rest 45% consists of Platelets, Red Blood Cells and White Blood Cells.

Components of Plasma:

  • 92% of Plasma is water.
  • 7% of it has vital proteins like antihemophilic factor, gamma globulin and albumin.
  • The remaining 1% is sugar, mineral salts, hormones, vitamins and fats.

What is the use of Plasma?

Plasma is generally transferred to patients suffering from a burn, trauma, fatal liver disease, shock, multiple clotting factor deficiencies. Blood plasma increases the volume of the blood, which prevents shock, and it also helps in blood clotting. Plasma is also used to treat Bleeding disorder and immune deficiencies. In our bodies, Plasma serves various functions such as:

  • It maintains the volume of the blood
  • Maintains the blood pressure
  • Acts as a carrier of electrolytes like potassium and sodium to the muscles
  • Maintains pH balance of the body
  • Carries proteins that are critical for immunity and blood clotting

What does Plasma Donation mean?

In the case of Plasma Donation, the plasma is separated from the other components of the blood. Blood is extracted from the donor’s arm, and then through a connection of pipes, it goes into machines. The Machine collects plasma from the donor’s blood. The remaining components, such as platelets, RBCs, are sent back to the donor with saline. This process takes a little bit longer than donating blood because the plasma has to be separated. However, the process is very safe, and there is nothing to worry about.

The extracted plasma is wholly frozen in 24 hours itself to preserve the clotting factors. Plasma can be easily stored for a year and can be used whenever required.

Who can donate Plasma?

Anybody who is more than 18 years and weighs 50kg or more can donate plasma before approving someone to donate plasma, then conducts a series of tests and examinations. A medical history screening, two medical examinations and tests for a transmissible virus is done before approving someone to donate plasma.

Steps involved in Plasma Donation

There are multiple steps that you must follow when you are gaining to donate your plasma. They are:

  • Registration:You will have to register yourself for donating plasma. You will have to provide some necessary information like your address, contact No., etc.
  • Medical History:Once that is done with the registration, a doctor will ask you details about your medical history. The doctor might also inquire about your travel history during the private interview.
  • Health Screening: Basic things like your temperature, blood pressure and blood sugar level will be tested before the donation process to make sure that you are in good health and do not contain any ailments of any disease. Once everything is alright, you will move on to the next steps.
  • Donation: Now, the doctor will take you to a hospital room where you will be asked to relax and lie down. A phlebotomist will begin with the plasma donation.

The phlebotomist will extract blood from one arm, and then through pipes, it will go into a sophisticated machine. The machine separates plasma from other components of the blood and then stores the plasma. This process is called plasmapheresis.

  • Last Step: The machine will diffuse the remaining components of the blood like WBCs, RBCs and Platelets into the blood with saline. You will be offered some healthy snacks after donation. After 15-20 minutes, you will be allowed to leave the place and continue with your regular life.

Side effects and risks associated with a plasma donation

Although Plasma donation is a very safe process, some people can experience specific side effects after the plasma donation process. Some of the risks and side effects are as follows :

  • Dizziness: Donating Plasma naturally means that you will lose some liquid from your body. This might cause dehydration or mild dizziness in some cases. To avoid this, doctors recommend drinking, eating and resting after the plasma donation process. This is a very common side effect. However, it is very mild and not that fatal.

If during the donation process, you feel pallor, nausea, vomiting, sweating or weakness, the doctor will immediately stop the process. A nurse will serve you some drinks and snacks, and if you feel good after some time, you can continue with the donation process.

  • Allergic Reaction: Doctors will use a disinfectant at a place where they will insert the needle. People who are allergic to iodine or any other disinfectants might experience swelling, redness, hives or itching. A mild reaction is okay, but you feel very uncomfortable, then the doctor will stop the donation process. Apply a cold towel at the affected area to feel better.
  • Bleeding and Bruising: Some people might experience bruising during or even after the donation process. The area from which you donated the plasma might feel swollen or warm. You might even experience some kind of pressure. All this is okay, and there is nothing to worry about. You can use cold compresses in the affected area for the next 12 or 24 hours after that use warm compresses.

If you experience bleeding, apply a little pressure to that area and then raise your arm. In case of the bleeding stops, you are fine, and there is nothing to worry about. However, if the bleeding doesn’t stop even after that, seek a doctor immediately.

Final Words:

Donating plasma is a very safe process; however, you should keep a few things in mind. For example, hydrate yourself well before and after the donation, maintain high standards of hygiene and care. Never forget to concern a good doctor before initiating the donation process.

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