Your plasma donation essentials
What is plasma?
Just over half of your blood is plasma. It's full of proteins that can be used in 18 different ways.
How does a plasma donation work?
It's a lot like donating blood, and just as rewarding. The process is called ‘apheresis’. It might sound complicated, but it’s just another word for how we collect plasma (and platelets, too).
While you’re resting in a comfortable chair, a special machine draws blood from your arm. The machine separates the blood out to collect the plasma, which is actually a yellow colour. It’s yellow because your red cells, which make your blood red, are returned to you during the donation.
Donating this way means you give twice as much plasma as you would in a normal blood donation! And, on top of that, you can do it more often — as often as every two weeks.
Are there any side effects?
Nothing long-term, but you might feel some tingling on the day. It’s because we use an anticoagulant called citrate.
It helps us return your red cells to you, and makes sure everything goes smoothly, but it can also cause a temporary drop in the level of calcium and magnesium in your blood during donation.
You may experience a metallic taste, tingling around the mouth and tongue, and, less often, tingling in your hands or feet.
You can reduce the chances of that happening by eating foods high in calcium, magnesium and potassium both on the day and the day before (like dairy, fresh fruit, green vegetables, nuts and beans), and ask for a calcium supplement when you arrive.
And in good news, your iron levels are a lot less likely to be affected because your red cells are returned to you (yay!).
How long it takes
Leave about an hour and a half for the whole appointment, which includes meeting with a friendly staff member before your donation and having a complimentary snack and drink after.
Donating takes about 45 minutes, and you can use that time to read, catch up on your favourite TV shows or just enjoy some uninterrupted down time.
How often can I give plasma?
As often as every 2 weeks, if you like!
Many donors find once a month fits into their routine nicely, but everyone is different. Changing more lives more often? Yes please.
Answering your questions
Why give plasma instead of blood?
Donating blood is one of the most generous things you can do, but donating plasma is a real game-changer. Did you know plasma can be used in 18 different life-giving ways?