Every year, millions of Americans experience some form of a medical emergency where plasma proteins can save their lives. Plasma is part of your blood, and it has over 400-proteins, with over 150 of them being useful in medical science.
Collecting plasma is a big business and its a valuable commodity in the medical community. A single donation has the potential to save three lives in a life-threatening situation.
Donating plasma is both a noble and ethical task. We realize that many people want to help out and donate, but they don’t know how to start. We put together this brief guide to give you everything you need to know about donating plasma.
How to Donate Plasma
If you want to donate plasma, search online for a collection center near you. Most centers don’t require you to make an appointment, and they’ll take walk-ins at most times of the day. It’s best to visit in the early morning when you’re feeling fresh.
You’ll need to take along your photo ID card, as well as your Social Security or border crossing identification, and proof of your address. When entering the plasma donation center, a receptionist will greet you and ask you to fill out the relevant paperwork relating to your personal information and relevant medical history.
They’ll check your details against your identification, and arrange a screening time for your blood sample. A lab technician takes a blood sample by pricking your fingertip with an instrument. The technician uses this sample to check the hematocrit and protein levels in your blood to determine if you are a suitable candidate for donation.
After analyzing your sample and reviewing your medical history, the lab technician will decide on your eligibility for donation. If approved, you can go right ahead with your first donation. The first time you donate can take up to 2-hours for the entire procedure. After that, you can expect a donation to take up to 90-minutes a session.
Plasma collection centers don’t expect you to donate for free, and most of them have large budgets for paying for collections. Upon finishing your donation, the facility will pay you out at the predetermined rate when processing your application. Payment amounts vary between collection facilities, so inquire before you donate.
Requirements for Personal Safety and Health
When donating plasma, your safety and security are of utmost importance to the donation center. The facility will only use safe and sterile materials when drawing your donation. The government strictly regulates the plasma donation industry, and all staff receives ongoing training to keep up to international standards of health and safety.
The best facilities are also members of the International Quality Plasma Program, where they have to undertake additional safety and health standards to receive certification. Al plasma centers receive regular inspection and auditing by government authorities.
The Side Effects of Donating Plasma
When you’re donating plasma, vital fluids, vitamins, and minerals are leaving your body. It’s for this reason that medical professionals assess your health status before letting you donate. If you have anything visibly wrong with you, such as showing signs of addiction or diseases, the technician will recommend that you receive medical treatment and refuse to approve you for donation.
If you are a healthy individual, and you get approval for donation by the technician, then you need to be aware of the possible side effects involved with your donation. Donating plasma takes a toll on your body. You can’t expect to leave the center feeling like nothing happened to you.
It’s for this reason that you need to prepare both before and after donating plasma. Always ensure that you have a good night’s sleep before donating. Did you eat well last night and this morning? How are you feeling emotionally? All of these factors play a significant role in the success of your donation.
After making your donation, you shouldn’t think about doing anything stressful for the rest of the day. Your priority is to remain hydrated and rest. It takes your body between 24 to 48-hours to get over the effects of your donation and restore your body’s plasma levels to normal function.
Some people are more at risk of developing side effects of donating plasma than others. When you do experience side effects, they are not severe, and most of them dissipate with rest and fluids. Some of the common side effects to look out for after donating plasma include the following;
- Lightheadedness – Removing plasma from your body temporarily reduces the amount of oxygen available in your bloodstream. As a result, you might start to feel a little lightheaded when walking around or rising from a seated position. This effect typically subsides in 4 to 6-hours after donating.
- Fatigue – After the lightheadedness clears, you might find that you start to feel fatigued and need to have a nap. This side effect is average, and you should rest if possible.
- Dehydration – This side effect is possibly the most severe complication of donating plasma. When the technician draws your blood, they are also removing vital minerals and fluids from your body, as well. Without the right levels of minerals and electrolytes in your bloodstream, you could experience a seizure.
- It’s for this reason that it’s vital to remember to drink plenty of fluids throughout the day after your donation. Try to drink specialized formulas used to treat patients with diarrhea. These rehydration formulas come fortified with all the electrolytes and minerals you need. Avoid using sports drinks to rehydrate after donating. The additional sugar in the formula is not a good source of fuel, and you may experience a sugar crash.
- Discomfort and Bruising – If you have the misfortune of getting stuck with a nurse that doesn’t know what she is doing, she might not know how to insert the needle into the vein properly. As a result, the site of the needle may be painful and bruised for four to seven days after donating.
- Site Infection – If you don’t follow the after-care procedures for outpatients, there’s a chance that the needle site could experience an infection.
Tips for Safely Donating Plasma
When you decide to take on the responsibility of donating plasma, make sure you do so through an accredited center. The donation center will ask you to complete a questionnaire, and they draw a sample for basic screening. However, they won’t test you for blood-borne diseases right away. If you have any STIs, the lab only picks up the contamination later in further screening.
You can consider it a big red flag if your donation does not go through. It’s best to arrange a physical examination with a doctor if the center refuses to let you donate. According to regulations, you can donate plasma once a month, or every 28-days. The FDA places these limitations on blood donors to ensure the health and safety of the donor.
Make sure you drink plenty of water on the morning of your donation. Drinking water volumizes your blood, allowing for a more pleasant donation with fewer chances of side effects occurring.
Plasma Donation FAQ
Here’s a list of frequently asked questions by first-time donors that we think you might find useful. If you have any further questions, go to the website of the Red Cross, or the other organizations mentioned at the end of this article.
- Who is eligible for donating plasma? – The minimum requirements for donors are that they are at least 18-years old and weight more than 110-lbs. All donors must pass a dual blood examination test. The first test happens on-site for the viability of your blood. The second occurs in a lab for transmittable infectious diseases.
- How can I donate plasma? – The US, Canada, and Europe have nearly 800 IQPP-certified and certified plasma collection centers. Each country operates under regulatory guidelines set by the government.
- Does Donating Hurt? – Donating blood does not cause any form of pain. You’ll feel a slight prick as the needle enters your vein. However, you’ll barely notice it, and the chances are you’ll think the fear was over-rated.
- Is the process safe? – Yes, donating your plasma in accredited centers is entirely safe. The center uses one-off disposable equipment in sterile conditions for your donations. The staff on hand all have extensive experience in conducting donations.
- Does the center do any screening or testing? – You must disclose any diseases of viruses before undergoing screening. The dual testing method ensures that no patients received contaminated blood
- How do they take my plasma? – Donating plasma is very similar to donating blood. Plasma collection occurs through a process known as “plasmapheresis.” The staff separates our plasma from red blood cells, returning the red blood cells to your body along with saline fluids to help your body recover.
- What do they do with my plasma? – Human plasma contains over 500-types of proteins. OF these 150-proteins have beneficial use in medical therapies.
- Do I receive compensation? – Every plasma collection center has an independent payment structure, so inquire before you donate.
- Can I donate plasma for free? – If you want to take the noble route and donate plasma for free, go right ahead. The donation center will gladly assist you with handling your free donation.
- Is it ethical to donate plasma? – It’s your body, and you have the right to do anything you want with it, as long as you’re not hurting yourself or other people. Selling your plasma for money may seem like an unethical thing to do. However, you’re helping medical science save lives, so take that to mind as well.
Finding a Plasma Donation Center in Your Area
Many people make the mistake of thinking that plasma collection centers are government institutions. This assumption is incorrect. The FDA plays a role in regulating and inspecting all plasma centers across the United States. However, the FDA does not play a role in managing these centers.
Each collection center operates under guidelines set to international plasma collection centers. However, they all may have different operating procedures and compensation plans. There is no central clearinghouse with plasma centers, so everything happens on-site, including collection and sample testing.
If you’re looking for a collection center to make a donation, visit the websites of the following organizations to find one near you.
- CSL Plasma – This organization has collection centers in 39-states, as well as multiple collection centers in states with larger populations. According to their information, new donors can make up to $400 for their first donation.
- Octapharma Plasma – This company has over 100-locations across the US. After making your donation, Octapharma loads your payment onto a prepaid debit card. You’ll need to bring that card with you for any further contributions you plan on making. The compensation varies by location, and they do offer frequency bonuses a $250 new donor bonus on the website as well.
- Grifols – This company has more than 100-collection centers across the United States. The collection centers have independent identities in many cases. The company may advertise as Grifols, Biomat USA, and Talecris Plasma Resources. Grifols pay you your fee using a prepaid debit card as well, and you’ll need to bring it with you to any future visits.
- DonatingPlasma.org – This organization does not offer any physical collection points in the United States. Instead, it’s an informational resource set up by the non-profit to spread awareness about plasma donation.
As a new donor, you can learn more about the process involved and why plasma is so valuable in the medical industry. The website also features a comprehensive list of plasma centers all over America. If you’re struggling to find one near you, use the directory to find the closest collection center. The site also has donor reviews of the staff and their experiencing donating plasma.
The Final Word – Shop Around
Plasma is a valuable commodity. Before you commit to visiting a collection center, inquire about the fee structure for donations.
If you have more than one collection center in your area, compare pricing, and choose the one that offers you the best deal.