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Wonder no more

Thank you for choosing to become a plasma donor! Your donation can be used to make one or more of 18 different life-saving medical products. Learn more about the 18 Wonders of Plasma

It’s normal to feel a bit nervous about your first donation, but this guide will help ensure you have a great experience.

Dispelling the myths
How to prepare
What to expect
Who you're helping

Dispelling the myths

It’s not as scary as you might think

After they’ve donated for the first time, most people realise there was no need to be nervous. Each year, many Aussies make their first donation and the overwhelming majority have a very positive experience. Our procedures are safe, clean, and fast. Try not to worry — you’re in great hands.

It doesn’t hurt

After a brief pinch when the needle goes in, all you should feel is a gentle pressure, never pain. Keep in mind that any discomfort will only last a few seconds, but your donation could benefit someone for a whole lifetime! If the needle feels uncomfortable, let us know straight away.

Most people feel fine

Most first-time donors who give blood feel absolutely fine and enjoy saving lives! Of the few people who do have a reaction, most have only mild faintness or dizziness. If you feel uncomfortable or unwell at any time, let us know straight away and we’ll look after you. 

“I’m generally frightened of needles but the staff went out of their way to make me feel comfortable.” Lyne, first time donor

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How to prepare

  • Get a good night’s sleep the night before.
  • The day before you donate, drink plenty of fluids, especially in warm weather.
  • ​Eat salty foods in the 12 hours before and eat a meal or savoury snack in the 3 hours before you donate. 
  • In the 3 hours before donating, drink at least 3 glasses of water or juice.
  • Bring your ID with you to your appointment

Make sure you’re good to go
There are times when you might need to change your appointment to another day. For instance, if you’ve been overseas recently, you may have to wait before donating. Check your destination at our travel eligibility page.

Or, if you:

  • Have a cold or flu
  • Had an upset stomach in the past week, or
  • Have been to the dentist recently
  • ​Take medication

If you’re at all unsure, call us on 13 14 95 to check if you can still donate on the day.

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Donor centre staff

What to expect

When you arrive

You’ll be welcomed by our friendly staff and asked to complete a Donor Questionnaire and a consent form.

The questionnaire is confidential and asks about your general health. The questions are to protect both you and the person who receives your blood.

Next, you’ll meet with a staff member who’ll make sure it’s safe for you to give blood on that day. They’ll give you a quick ‘finger prick’ test to check your level of haemoglobin (a protein in your blood which contains iron) and measure your blood pressure. They’ll also note your height and weight.

During your donation

Plan ahead and bring along something to distract you and make the time fly. We have free Wi-Fi internet in donor centres, so bring your smartphone or tablet, or simply read, listen to music, or play handheld games.

You donate plasma by a process called apheresis. A machine draws blood from your arm by a sterile needle and tube and spins the blood very fast in a small centrifuge to separate out the plasma. Using the same arm and needle your other blood components are returned to you together with 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.

The actual donation itself takes about 45 minutes. However, allow around an hour and a half for the whole appointment, including the checks before and enjoying refreshments after.

After your donation

It’s time to relax and feel good about saving lives! After donating, you’ll be able to choose something to eat and drink, for free, while relaxing in the refreshment area. Have at least two cool drinks and something salty to eat before leaving.

We strongly advise that you stay with us for at least 15-20 minutes after your donation to hydrate, relax and let your blood volume adjust.

Within 24 hours your body will have completely restored the volume of donated fluid. Drinking extra water-based liquids before and after giving blood will help this process.

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Plasma machine

How much plasma will I give?

The volume of plasma we collect depends upon your height and weight, but the maximum is 800ml. As your red blood cells are returned at the time of donation, there is minimal impact on your haemoglobin and iron levels.


Happy donor

What does it feel like?

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 18 wonderful life-saving treatments.

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.

Could I be asked to donate whole blood in future? 

Depending on your blood type, you may be asked to donate whole blood (blood without the plasma taken out) every now and then if stocks are running low. Being able to donate whatever is needed at the time makes you a pretty special donor!

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Who you're helping

This is Brodie. He 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.

Learn more about the 18 Wonders of Plasma

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If you have questions or need to change anything

  • ​Call 13 14 95 if you have any questions.
  • If you change your mind or can’t make it to your appointment, it’s important that you let us know as soon as possible on 13 14 95. That gives us the opportunity to reschedule or put another donor in your place – so no patient misses out.

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