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Welcome to plasma

Thank you for becoming a plasma donor!

Every donation you make can change lives in many ways, in fact your plasma can be used to make 18 different life-saving treatments.   

You’re joining the thousands of donors every year who give plasma for the first time. Plasma donation is slightly different from whole blood donation and it’s normal to have a few questions. This information should answer some of those and help you have a great experience.

How it works

How do you donate just one component of your blood? By a process called apheresis, which is similar to giving whole blood. The difference is that an apheresis machine spins the blood very fast in a small centrifuge to separate out the plasma. It keeps the plasma and returns your red blood cells, white cells and platelets back to you using the same arm and needle. Along with your other blood components, you’ll also receive some saline (salt solution) to help replace the fluid you’ve donated.

The sterile tubing and plastic bags within the machine are used only once and then disposed of, making the process very safe.

Plasma machine

How long does it take?

Giving plasma does take a little longer than giving whole blood as we ask a few more questions and on average it takes 35–45 minutes for the actual donation. This means you’ll get some extra time to relax, read a book, or take advantage of our free WiFi, all while saving lives!

For your first plasma donation appointment, we recommend you allow about one and a half hours. This includes the time needed for the questionnaire and interview, donation process and relaxing with a snack afterwards. Following that, you should only need about an hour for each appointment.

How much plasma will I give?

The volume of plasma we collect depends upon your height and weight, but the maximum is 800ml. This is more than the amount of plasma in two whole blood donations, which means much more plasma for patients. 

Is the needle the same as whole blood donation?

Yes, the needle is the same size as the needle used in a whole blood donation. Also, just like giving whole blood, we only use one needle during the donation.

Happy donor

What does it feel like?

Mostly, giving plasma feels similar to giving whole blood. Occasionally when receiving the saline some donors report a slightly cold sensation. If this happens, staff will be on hand with a blanket to keep you warm and comfortable. 

A trained nurse will supervise throughout your donation. If you feel uncomfortable or unwell at any time, let them know straight away and they’ll look after you. 

Generally, most first-time plasma donors feel absolutely fine. It’s a real buzz knowing that your ‘liquid gold’ plasma will soon be made into life-saving treatments.

Can I donate plasma more often than whole blood?

Only if you want to! Although you can donate plasma more regularly than whole blood—as often as every two weeks—you are in control and can donate whenever it suits you.

Many plasma donors prefer to have a regular routine, but how often you donate is up to you.

Will I still be asked to donate whole blood? 

Depending on your blood type, you may be asked to donate whole blood every now and then if stocks are running low. Being able to give whatever is needed at the time makes you a pretty special donor! 

How do I prepare?

As someone who has donated before, you already know the drill when it comes to preparing for blood donation. You don’t need to do anything different before giving plasma. As usual, please make sure that you:

•    Drink plenty of fluids the day before you donate, especially in warm weather.
•    Have regular meals in the 12 hours before and eat a substantial, preferably salty, meal or snack in the 3 hours before. 
•    Drink 3 good-sized glasses of water or juice in the 3 hours before your appointment.
•    Bring your ID to your appointment.


Who you're helping

Brodie, pictured above, received his first infusion of immunoglobulin, made from donated plasma, when he was just eight weeks old and needs it weekly to treat his immune condition. 

Plasma is amazingly versatile. It’s constantly in demand to treat a growing number of life-threatening conditions and for many vital medical treatments. It’s used to: 

  • Treat serious autoimmune and blood disorders. Some patients, like Brodie, need plasma regularly.
  • Treat severe burns.
  • Treat complications during heart surgery.
  • Protect against potentially fatal Rhesus Disease in newborn babies.
  • Fight infection during bone marrow transplants.
  • Create immunisations, such as for measles, chicken pox and tetanus.
  • And much, much more.

If you have questions or need to change anything

If you are unwell, have been to the dentist recently, or if something to do with your health has changed since your last whole blood donation, you might need to change your appointment time.

Finally, if you’re at all unsure, or you need to cancel or reschedule your appointment, please call us on 13 14 95 

Congratulations on becoming a plasma donor. See you at your donation! 

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