Plasma transfusions

illustration of a yellow plasma drop
What is plasma?

About 55% of blood is plasma, which is the pale-yellow liquid part of blood.

It’s stored frozen, then thawed when a patient needs it. That’s why we call it ‘fresh frozen plasma’, but we usually just say ‘plasma’.

It’s 92% water and is what’s left when all the blood cells are removed from whole blood.

Lady holding a blue question mark
What does plasma do in the body?

Plasma is the fluid that carries red cells, white cells, platelets, proteins and nutrients through the blood vessels in the body.

It contains: 

  • molecules called antibodies to fight infections
  • clotting proteins to help stop bleeding, and
  • albumin, an important protein which stops water leaking out of the blood vessels and protects nutrients, hormones and some medications.

Nick loves camping, road trips, cycling. Thanks to plasma treatments, he's safe from everyday germs while doing them.

Nick, plasma recipient

Diagnosed with hyper IgM syndrome at just five-months-old, Nick has received 360 infusions from donated plasma over the past 30 years.

Nick, plasma recipient

"I like to refer to it as liquid life," he says. "The plasma that they donate is priceless."

Nick, plasma recipient

illustration of a patient seated with a doctor beside him with speech bubbles

Why might I need a plasma transfusion?

If you're missing or have low levels of blood proteins due to a medical condition like liver disease, heart surgery, or severe blood loss, a plasma transfusion may help.

Are there options other than a plasma transfusion?

Sometimes. There are a number of alternative fluids and individual antibodies, albumin and clotting proteins that can be used instead for some patients.

Your healthcare team will recommend these alternatives whenever possible, but they’ll recommend fresh frozen plasma when there are no other options, or if you need more than one plasma protein. 

You may also like

illustration of a doctor in a white coat with stethoscope
Avoid a transfusion

There are some things you can do to lower the chances of needing a transfusion.

Check out these tips
illustration of a woman holding a red blood pack
Receiving a transfusion

Everything you need to know, from what ‘informed consent’ means through to your recovery.

See our transfusion guide