Why Do People Need Donated Blood Plasma?

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Plasma is a rich source of proteins and antibodies. Donated plasma is made into potentially life-saving therapies by the plasma protein therapeutics industry. These plasma therapies are used to treat many rare, chronic and life-threatening diseases giving people all over the world an opportunity to live a healthy life.

Why Do People Need Donated Blood Plasma?
Why Do People Need Donated Blood Plasma? (Image: Keith Brofsky/Photodisc/Getty Images)

Definition

Plasma is the largest component in blood, making up 55 percent. Plasma is the straw-colored liquid after the other components of blood have been removed including red blood cells, platelets and white blood cells. Blood plasma is a rich source of nearly 500 proteins and antibodies including clotting factors, immunoglobulins, albumin and fibrinogen.

Blood plasma is a rich source of nearly 500 proteins and antibodies including clotting factors, immunoglobulins, albumin and fibrinogen.
Blood plasma is a rich source of nearly 500 proteins and antibodies including clotting factors, immunoglobulins, albumin and fibrinogen. (Image: Wavebreakmedia Ltd/Wavebreak Media/Getty Images)

Uses

Blood plasma is the building block for a whole range of potentially life-saving medicines. Plasma therapies are used to treat medical conditions such as burns, trauma, and shock. They also treat life-threatening diseases, genetic conditions, chronic and rare diseases, and autoimmune and neurological disorders. Two of the proteinsin plasma---albumin and fibrin---provide powerful anti-shock and blood clotting properties. They were used to treat soldiers injured during World War II and are also used in war zones today.

Plasma therapies are used to treat medical conditions such as burns, trauma, and shock.
Plasma therapies are used to treat medical conditions such as burns, trauma, and shock. (Image: Thomas Northcut/Digital Vision/Getty Images)

Medical conditions

Plasma protein therapies are of vital importance in helping save the lives of people of all ages and backgrounds who may suffer from one of the following conditions: hereditary disorders like the potentially lethal alpha-1 antitrypsin deficiency, bleeding disorders like hemophilia and von Willebrand disease and immunodeficiency diseases like Kawasaki.

Plasma is also used to provide life-saving therapy to patients suffering from animal bites, burns, trauma, shock and those with serious liver complications, hepatitis and HIV in children. It is also used after major surgery and is a source of protection for transplant patients.

Plasma protein therapies are of vital importance in helping save the lives of people of all ages and backgrounds.
Plasma protein therapies are of vital importance in helping save the lives of people of all ages and backgrounds. (Image: 4774344sean/iStock/Getty Images)

Donations

Plasma therapies require donations from committed individuals who are from all walks of life. They can make donations at over 330 government run centers throughout the US and at 25 certified plasma collection centers in Europe. As donating plasma takes time (the total time of a donation visit can be between one to two hours) effort and commitment, donors are compensated. Each donation center has a compensation policy.

Donations can be made twice a week with a minimum of two days between each donation as it takes the body 48 hours to replace the donated plasma. Donors need to fulfill certain eligibility criteria, they must be at least 18 years old and weigh at least 50k. They also are required to pass two separate medical exams.

Plasma therapies require donations from committed individuals who are from all walks of life.
Plasma therapies require donations from committed individuals who are from all walks of life. (Image: Keith Brofsky/Photodisc/Getty Images)

Process

Plasma collection is known as plasmapheresis. Plasma donation is similar to blood donation as a needle is placed in the arm and whole blood collected in a specialized sterile device. After the plasma has been separated, the red blood cells and cellular components are returned to the donor via a sterile solution.

Facts

Approximately 15 million plasma donations are made in the US every year. 11 million liters of source plasma are donated each year in the US. A donor donates approximately 0.8 liters of plasma per donation visit.

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