When many of us think about donating medically, we think of giving blood. It’s all over the place: at local shopping centers, sporting events, and schools. Some donate because they feel like it’s an easy way to give back to people in need, or they just simply want the cool shirt that comes along with the deal. Whatever the case is, blood donation is a key part that our medical system needs to keep our community healthy. What many people do not know is that there is a different type of donation as well: plasma donations. These types of donations are not as widely discussed or as easy to find a donation location, but are equally as important.
Just as a donation of blood can help those less fortunate lead healthy, normal lives, so can plasma donations. Many of us have never even heard that our bodies contain plasma, but it’s actually a vital element to our well-being. When donating plasma, we are giving those that live with hemophilia and various other immune deficiencies a chance to balance what their bodies are missing. Our blood’s plasma is mainly used to naturally clot blood in areas of our body that have been injured. With essential proteins, plasma is also a great helper in allowing the body to transport amino acids, glucose, carbon-dioxide, lipids, and oxygen to where it needs to go. With sufficient amounts of plasma in the blood system, the body is able to better defend from such diseases as rabies, tetanus, measles, hepatitis B, and rubella.
The process of donating plasma is very similar to donating blood, except for the amount of time. Instead of the in-and-out donations of blood, giving plasma takes a bit longer. For a first visit, expect to spend about two hours to complete the physical exam and doing the actual donating. Almost the same restrictions apply to those who want to donate blood as to plasma: be at least 18 years old, eat healthy, weight over 110-115 lbs., and drink water routinely.
A large advantage of giving plasma over blood is the amount of donations you can do in a short period of time. When giving whole blood, one normally needs to wait about 50 day until the next donation is allowed. On the other hand, there is only a 48 hour waiting period between plasma donation times. The largest reason of this is because with plasma donations, you are not giving all of your blood away, but rather only filtering out the plasma within the blood. This is also the reason why plasma donations take longer: blood is taken out, plasma is filtered out by a machine, and then the filtered blood is pumped back into your body. Pretty nuts, huh?
Finding a location in your area to donate plasma might be a bit more difficult than locating a blood donation center. Not all of them offer it, but try checking into the blood centers and ask if there is a plasma center as well. An advantage to donating blood plasma is also the possibility of being paid. I have always been told this, but did not believe it until I received a flier at my university about the ability of earning $3,600 per year by donating. It’s an awesome way to give back to people that need it the most while also walking away with some money for your time. It’s one of the most honest win-win situations you can experience nowadays, so why not spend some time to donate that extra plasma. Start looking for a donation center in your area!