How plasma is a game-changer

Think all blood is red? Think blood donations are just for car accidents? Think again.

Just over half of your blood is a yellow liquid called plasma, and it’s powerful. Your plasma can be used to help people in 18 different life-giving ways.

Donating plasma is similar to donating blood and gives you the chance to help even more Australians enjoy a better quality of life. 

Orange illustration of child with dots representing chicken pox

1. Chicken Pox

Chicken Pox can be a serious illness. Thankfully, doctors can use Zoster Immunoglobulin, which provides temporary protection against Chicken Pox. 

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2. Brain disorders

Brain Disorders can happen when our immune system malfunctions. Thankfully, scientists have put their heads together and developed intravenous immunoglobulin (IVig), a mixture of antibodies that can help make hostile immune systems less of a headache. 

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3. Immune deficiencies

When you donate plasma, you’re also donating unique antibodies. Your plasma can be mixed with plasma from other people to create a super army of lifesaving germ-fighters. This superweapon can help people with immune deficiencies.

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4. Tetanus

So you’ve accidentally caught yourself on a rusty fence? An intramuscular injection of Tetanus Immunoglobulin-VF normally does the trick, helping fight tetanus before it takes hold.   

5. Tetanus infection

If you come into contact with tetanus without being adequately vaccinated, and do develop tetanus infection, a dose of Tetanus Immunoglobulin into your blood can help mop up some of the toxins before they do more damage. 

Navy illustration of a swaddled baby, with a - sign on the left and a + on the right

6. Rh disease

In some cases when two people with different Rh (D) types (that’s the +/- in your blood type) have a child, an Rh (D) negative mother’s immune system may produce antibodies that can destroy the red blood cells of their Rh (D) positive child. Plasma helps prevent Rh disease, with a treatment given to affected pregnant women

Dark red illustration of adult with dot representing measles

7. Measles

For those who can’t be vaccinated against measles, plasma can save the day. It’s used to make a medication called normal human immunoglobulin (NHIG), which can provide temporary protection.

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8. Thrombotic thrombocytopenic purpura (TTP)

You’ve likely never heard of it, but left untreated, TTP can have fatal consequences. It’s a rare blood disorder, and a daily plasma exchange can help prevent the associated formation of blood clots. 

Red illustration of a liver

9. Liver disease

One of your liver’s 500 unique functions is to  produce clotting agents, which help stop you from bleeding. When it’s damaged, the supply of these agents can dry up. In these cases, plasma can help prevent or stop bleeding complications that arise from liver disease.

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10. Bone marrow transplants 

After chemotherapy, some cancer patients will need to have their bone marrow replaced, and some are at particular risk of very severe infections during their transplant due to their weakened immune systems. The antibodies within plasma can help prevent infections during bone marrow transplants.

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11. Haemophilia

Haemophilia affects your blood's ability to clot. Plasma can be used to make products that can replace missing clotting factors, helping people with haemophilia live a relatively normal life.

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12. Deep vein thrombosis

In some people, deficiencies of certain blood factors can increase their risk of developing deep vein thrombosis (DVT). Treatment with plasma products can help restore normal blood function by replacing these important 'anti-clotting' factors.

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13. Heart surgery 

Lifesaving surgeons who perform heart surgery do so with cryoprecipitate at their side, which can treat complications during heart surgery. 

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14. Haemorrhages

Haemorrhages are among the most challenging issues any surgeon will face. A transfusion of a special plasma product that replaces vital clotting factors, can help to stop critical bleeding

Yellow illustration of a tree with three blood drops in the leaves.

15. Rare blood disorders

A very small percentage of the population, have inherited rare blood disorders. They may have complicated names, like “congenital dysfibrinogenaemia” or “von Willebrand disease”, but often the treatment is quite simple - regular transfusions of treatments made from plasma.

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16. Hepatitis B

If you’re exposed to Hepatitis B and haven't been vaccinated, there is a plan B – a treatment made from plasma.

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17. Kidney disease 

If your kidneys fail due to kidney disease, Albumin, a protein extracted from plasma, can be used in the treatment.

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18. Severe burns 

Plasma can offer patients suffering severe burns some relief. Albumin, can help replenish and replace lost fluid and proteins, preventing a patient from going into shock.

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